Community outreach midwifery-led model improves antenatal access in a disadvantaged population

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Abstract

Objective:

This study aimed to assess the impact of a new model of antenatal care for women living in a very remote area.

Design:

This is a retrospective 2-year evaluation of antenatal care.

Setting and participants:

Two hundred thirteen pregnant women in Aboriginal communities in the Fitzroy Valley of Western Australia participated in this study.

Intervention:

The implementation of a midwifery-led interdisciplinary model of antenatal outreach care.

Main outcome measures:

The indicators measured were numbers of antenatal visits, their location and quality care indicators (presentation in first trimester, alcohol and smoking, ultrasound and blood-borne virus screening) and outcome indicators (birth weight, prematurity, in utero deaths and mode of delivery).

Results:

There was an increase in access to antenatal care and improvements in quality-of-care indicators. The proportion of visits provided in local Aboriginal communities increased from 10% to 24%. There were statistically significant increases in women presenting in the first trimester (40–58%), screening for alcohol and smoking (48–93%) and having an ultrasound in pregnancy (59–94%). There were no significant improvements in neonatal outcome indicators.

Conclusion:

There is a large disparity in maternal and child health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) and non-Indigenous Australians thought to be due to decreased access to antenatal care, poorer socioeconomic status and the associated risk factors. The change in model of care resulted in earlier presentation for antenatal care, increased numbers of antenatal visits and increased screening for risk factors. Regular auditing of services enables the identification of opportunity for improvement with the goal of improving health outcomes.

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