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Lancet. 1996 Aug 10;348(9024):364-9.

Randomised controlled trial of a reduced-visits programme of antenatal care in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Author information

  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Zimbabwe, Avondale, Harare.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Many of the individual components of antenatal care have been studied in randomised controlled trials, but few studies have compared whole programmes of antenatal care. Our aim was to test the hypothesis that a new programme of antenatal care with fewer goal-oriented visits would give an equivalent or better result in the outcomes associated with pregnancy and delivery.

METHODS:

In a randomised clinical trial in Harare, Zimbabwe, we compared a new programme of antenatal care with the standard programme. The new programme consisted of fewer but more objectively oriented visits and fewer procedures per visit. Seven primary care clinics were randomly assigned to the two programmes-three to the standard programme and four to the new programme.

FINDINGS:

Over a 2-year period, 15,994 women were recruited into the study at the time they booked antenatal care. 97% of the women were followed up, 9,394 who had followed the new programme, and 6,138 from clinics with the standard one. Women allocated to the new programme made, as planned, fewer visits than those in the standard programme (median 4 vs 6 visits, respectively). The proportion of antenatal referrals was also lower (13.6 vs 15.3%; odds ratio 0.87 [95% CI 0.79-0.95]) because of significantly fewer referrals for pregnancy-induced hypertension (2.5 vs 3.8%; 0.66 [0.55-0.79]). Nevertheless, there were significantly fewer labour referrals for severe hypertension or eclampsia (2.1 vs 2.6%; 0.81 [0.66-1.00]). The risk for preterm (< 37 weeks) delivery was significantly lower for women on the new programme (10.1 vs 11.5%; 0.86 [0.78-0.96]). There were no other significant differences between the programmes in other major indices of pregnancy outcome, including antenatal referrals for other causes, labour referrals, obstetric interventions, low birthweight, and perinatal and maternal mortality and morbidity.

INTERPRETATION:

An antenatal care programme with fewer more objectively oriented visits can be introduced without adverse effects on the main intermediate outcome pregnancy variables.

PIP:

Many of the individual components of prenatal care have been studied in randomized controlled trials, but few studies have compared whole programs of prenatal care. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that a new program of prenatal care with fewer goal-oriented visits would give an equivalent or better result in pregnancy and delivery outcomes. A new program of prenatal care was compared with the standard program in a randomized clinical trial in Harare, Zimbabwe. The new program consisted of fewer but more objectively oriented visits and fewer procedures per visit. Seven primary care clinics were randomly assigned to the two programs: three to the standard program and four to the new program. Over a two-year period between July, 1989, and July, 1991, 15,994 women were recruited into the study at the time they were booked for prenatal care. 97% of the women were followed up: 9394 followed the new program and 6138 were from clinics with the standard one. The median number of visits was reduced from 7 to 6 in the standard program and from 7 to 4 in the new program. The proportion of prenatal referrals was also lower (13.6% vs. 15.3%; odds ratio [OR] 0.87 [95% confidence interval [CI] 0.79-0.95]) because of significantly fewer referrals for pregnancy-induced hypertension (2.5% vs. 3.8%; OR 0.66 [CI 0.55-0.79]). Nevertheless, there were significantly fewer referrals in labor for severe hypertension or eclampsia (2.1% vs 2.6%; OR 0.81 [CI 0.66-1.00]). The risk for preterm ( 37 weeks) delivery was significantly lower for women in the new program (10.1% vs. 11.5%; OR 0.86 [CI 0.78-0.96]). There were no other significant differences between the programs in other major indices of pregnancy outcome, including prenatal referrals for other causes, labor referrals, obstetric interventions, low birth weight, and perinatal and maternal mortality and morbidity. A prenatal care program with fewer, more objectively oriented visits can be introduced without adverse effects on the main intermediate outcome pregnancy variables.

PMID:
8709734
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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