Group Prenatal Care and Perinatal Outcomes: A Randomized Controlled Trial


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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:To determine whether group prenatal care improves pregnancy outcomes, psychosocial function, and patient satisfaction and to examine potential cost differences.METHODS:A multisite randomized controlled trial was conducted at two university-affiliated hospital prenatal clinics. Pregnant women aged 14–25 years (n=1,047) were randomly assigned to either standard or group care. Women with medical conditions requiring individualized care were excluded from randomization. Group participants received care in a group setting with women having the same expected delivery month. Timing and content of visits followed obstetric guidelines from week 18 through delivery. Each 2-hour prenatal care session included physical assessment, education and skills building, and support through facilitated group discussion. Structured interviews were conducted at study entry, during the third trimester, and postpartum.RESULTS:Mean age of participants was 20.4 years; 80% were African American. Using intent-to-treat analyses, women assigned to group care were significantly less likely to have preterm births compared with those in standard care: 9.8% compared with 13.8%, with no differences in age, parity, education, or income between study conditions. This is equivalent to a risk reduction of 33% (odds ratio 0.67, 95% confidence interval 0.44–0.99, P=.045), or 40 per 1,000 births. Effects were strengthened for African-American women: 10.0% compared with 15.8% (odds ratio 0.59, 95% confidence interval 0.38–0.92, P=.02). Women in group sessions were less likely to have suboptimal prenatal care (P<.01), had significantly better prenatal knowledge (P<.001), felt more ready for labor and delivery (P<.001), and had greater satisfaction with care (P<.001). Breastfeeding initiation was higher in group care: 66.5% compared with 54.6%, P<.001. There were no differences in birth weight nor in costs associated with prenatal care or delivery.CONCLUSION:Group prenatal care resulted in equal or improved perinatal outcomes at no added cost.CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrials.gov, www.clinicaltrials.gov, NCT00271960LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:I

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