Collaboration in maternity care: A randomised controlled trial comparing community-based continuity of care with standard hospital care

Publication Type:
Journal Article
British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 2001, 108 (1), pp. 16 - 22
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Objective: To test whether a new community-based model of continuity of care provided by midwives and obstetricians improved maternal clinical outcomes, in particular a reduced caesarean section rate. Design: Randomised controlled trial. Setting: A public teaching hospital in metropolitan Sydney, Australia. Sample: 1089 women randomised to either the community-based model (n = 550) or standard hospital-based care (n = 539) prior to their first antenatal booking visit at an Australian metropolitan public hospital. Main outcome measures: Data were collected on onset and outcomes of labour, antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal complications, antenatal admissions to hospital and neonatal mortality and morbidity. Results: There was a significant difference in the caesarean section rate between the groups, 13.3% (73/550) in the community-based group and 17.8% in the control group (96/539). This difference was maintained after controlling for known contributing factors to caesarean section (OR = 0.6, 95% CI 0.4-0.9, P = 0.02). There were no other significant differences in the events during labour and birth. Eighty babies (14.5%) from the community-based group and 102 (18.9%) from the control group were admitted to the special care nursery, but this difference was not significant (OR 0.75, 95% CI 0.5-1.1, P = 0.12). Eight infants died during the perinatal period (four from each group), for an overall perinatal mortality rate of 7.3 per 1000 births. Conclusion: Community-based continuity of maternity care provided by midwives and obstetricians resulted in a significantly reduced caesarean section rate. There were no other differences in clinical outcomes.
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