Evaluation of health in pregnancy grants in Scotland: a protocol for a natural experiment

Ruth Dundas, Samiratou Ouédraogo, Lyndal Bond, Andrew H Briggs, James Chalmers, Ron Gray, Rachael Wood, Alastair H Leyland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: A substantial proportion of low birth weight is attributable to the mother's cultural and socioeconomic circumstances. Early childhood programmes have been widely developed to improve child outcomes. In the UK, the Health in Pregnancy (HiP) grant, a universal conditional cash transfer of £190, was introduced for women reaching the 25th week of pregnancy with a due date on/or after 6 April 2009 and subsequently withdrawn for women reaching the 25th week of pregnancy on/or after 1 January 2011. The current study focuses on the evaluation of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the HiP grant.

METHODS AND ANALYSIS: The population under study will be all singleton births in Scotland over the periods of January 2004 to March 2009 (preintervention), April 2009 to April 2011 (intervention) and May 2011 to December 2013 (postintervention). Data will be extracted from the Scottish maternity and neonatal database. The analysis period 2004-2013 should yield over 585,000 births. The primary outcome will be birth weight among singleton births. Other secondary outcomes will include gestation at booking, booking before 25 weeks; measures of size and stage; gestational age at delivery; weight-for-dates, term at birth; birth outcomes and maternal smoking. The main statistical method we will use is interrupted time series. Outcomes will be measured on individual births nested within mothers, with mothers themselves clustered within data zones. Multilevel regression models will be used to determine whether the outcomes changed during the period in which the HiP grants was in effect. Subgroup analyses will be conducted for those groups most likely to benefit from the payments.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Approval for data collection, storage and release for research purpose has been given (6 May 2014, PAC38A/13) by the Privacy Advisory Committee. The results of this study will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publications in journals, national and international conferences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e006547
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2014


  • Adult
  • Birth Weight
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Financing, Government
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interrupted Time Series Analysis
  • Maternal Welfare
  • Poverty
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scotland


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