An effectiveness-implementation hybrid type 1 trial assessing the impact of group versus individual antenatal care on maternal and infant outcomes in Malawi

Ellen Chirwa, Esnath Kapito, Diana L. Jere, Ursula Kafulafula, Elizabeth Chodzaza, Genesis Chorwe-Sungani, Ashley Gresh, Li Liu, Elizabeth T. Abrams, Carrie S. Klima, Linda L. McCreary, Kathleen F. Norr, Crystal L. Patil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Sub-Saharan Africa has the world's highest rates of maternal and perinatal mortality and accounts for two-thirds of new HIV infections and 25% of preterm births. Antenatal care, as the entry point into the health system for many women, offers an opportunity to provide life-saving monitoring, health promotion, and health system linkages. Change is urgently needed, because potential benefits of antenatal care are not realized when pregnant women experience long wait times and short visits with inconsistent provisioning of essential services and minimal health promotion, especially for HIV prevention. This study answers WHO's call for the rigorous study of group antenatal care as a transformative model that provides a positive pregnancy experience and improves outcomes. Methods: Using a hybrid type 1 effectiveness-implementation design, we test the effectiveness of group antenatal care by comparing it to individual care across 6 clinics in Blantyre District, Malawi. Our first aim is to evaluate the effectiveness of group antenatal care through 6 months postpartum. We hypothesize that women in group care and their infants will have less morbidity and mortality and more positive HIV prevention outcomes. We will test hypotheses using multi-level hierarchical models using data from repeated surveys (four time points) and health records. Guided by the consolidated framework for implementation research, our second aim is to identify contextual factors related to clinic-level degree of implementation success. Analyses use within and across-case matrices. Discussion: This high-impact study addresses three global health priorities, including maternal and infant mortality, HIV prevention, and improved quality of antenatal care. Results will provide rigorous evidence documenting the effectiveness and scalability of group antenatal care. If results are negative, governments will avoid spending on less effective care. If our study shows positive health impacts in Malawi, the results will provide strong evidence and valuable lessons learned for widespread scale-up in other low-resource settings. Positive maternal, neonatal, and HIV-related outcomes will save lives, impact the quality of antenatal care, and influence health policy as governments make decisions about whether to adopt this innovative healthcare model. Trial registration: registration number NCT03673709. Registered on September 17, 2018.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number205
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 10 2020


  • Antenatal care
  • CFIR
  • Fidelity
  • Group healthcare
  • Implementation
  • Maternal and newborn health
  • Preterm birth
  • Sub-Saharan Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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