Testing the effectiveness of REACH Pregnancy Circles group antenatal care: Protocol for a randomised controlled pilot trial

Meg Wiggins, Mary Sawtell, Octavia Wiseman, Christine McCourt, Lauren Greenberg, Rachael Hunter, Sandra Eldridge, Penny Haora, Inderjeet Kaur, Angela Harden

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Background: Antenatal care is an important public health priority. Women from socially disadvantaged, and culturally and linguistically diverse groups often have difficulties with accessing antenatal care and report more negative experiences with care. Although group antenatal care has been shown in some settings to be effective for improving women's experiences of care and for improving other maternal as well as newborn health outcomes, these outcomes have not been rigorously assessed in the UK. A pilot trial will be conducted to determine the feasibility of, and optimum methods for, testing the effectiveness of group antenatal care in an NHS setting serving populations with high levels of social deprivation and cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity. Outcomes will inform the protocol for a future full trial. Methods: This protocol outlines an individual-level randomised controlled external pilot trial with integrated process and economic evaluations. The two trial arms will be group care and standard antenatal care. The trial will involve the recruitment of 72 pregnant women across three maternity services within one large NHS Acute Trust. Baseline, outcomes and economic data will be collected via questionnaires completed by the participants at three time points, with the final scheduled for 4 months postnatal. Routine maternity service data will also be collected for outcomes assessment and economic evaluation purposes. Stakeholder interviews will provide insights into the acceptability of research and intervention processes, including the use of interpreters to support women who do not speak English. Pre-agreed criteria have been selected to guide the decision about whether or not to progress to a full trial. Discussion: This pilot trial will determine if it is appropriate to proceed to a full trial of group antenatal care in this setting. If progression is supported, the pilot will provide authoritative high-quality evidence to inform the design and conduct of a trial in this important area that holds significant potential to influence maternity care, outcomes and experience.

Original languageEnglish
Article number138
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


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