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BMJ. Mar 2, 1996; 312(7030): 554–559.
PMCID: PMC2350348
Should obstetricians see women with normal pregnancies? A multicentre randomised controlled trial of routine antenatal care by general practitioners and midwives compared with shared care led by obstetricians.
J. S. Tucker, M. H. Hall, P. W. Howie, M. E. Reid, R. S. Barbour, C. D. Florey, and G. M. McIlwaine
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School.
OBJECTIVE--To compare routine antenatal care provided by general practitioners and midwives with obstetrician led shared care. DESIGN--Multicentre randomised controlled trial. SETTING--51 general practices linked to nine Scottish maternity hospitals. SUBJECTS--1765 women at low risk of antenatal complications. INTERVENTION--Routine antenatal care by general practitioners and midwives according to a care plan and protocols for managing complications. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Comparisons of health service use, indicators of quality of care, and women's satisfaction. RESULTS--Continuity of care was improved for the general practitioner and midwife group as the number of carers was less (median 5 carers v 7 for shared care group, P<0.0001) and the number of routine visits reduced (10.9 v 11.7, P<0.0001). Fewer women in the general practitioner and midwife group had antenatal admissions (27% (222/834) v 32% (266/840), P<0.05), non-attendances (7% (57) v 11% (89), P<0.01) and daycare (12% (102) v 7% (139), P<0.05) but more were referred (49% (406) v 36% (305), P<0.0001). Rates of antenatal diagnoses did not differ except that fewer women in the general practitioner and midwife group had hypertensive disorders (pregnancy induced hypertension, 5% (37) v 8% (70), P<0.01) and fewer had labour induced (18% (149) v 24% (201), P<0.01). Few failures to comply with the care protocol occurred, but more Rhesus negative women in the general practitioner and midwife group did not have an appropriate antibody check (2.5% (20) v 0.4% (3), P<0.0001). Both groups expressed high satisfaction with care (68% (453/663) v 65% (430/656), P=0.5) and acceptability of allocated style of care (93% (618) v 94% (624), P=0.6). Access to hospital support before labour was similar (45% (302) v 48% (312) visited labour rooms before giving birth, P=0.6). CONCLUSION--Routine specialist visits for women initially at low risk of pregnancy complications offer little or no clinical or consumer benefit.
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