Quality framework for remote antenatal care: qualitative study with women, healthcare professionals and system-level stakeholders

Lisa Hinton*, Francesca Dakin, Karolina Kuberska, Nicola Boydell, Janet Willars, Tim Draycott, Cathy Winter, Richard J McManus, Lucy C Chappell, Sanhita Chakrabarti, Elizabeth Howland, Jenny George, Brandi Leach, Mary Dixon-Woods

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background High quality antenatal care is important to ensuring optimal birth outcomes and reducing risks of maternal and fetal mortality and morbidity. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the usual provision of antenatal care, with much care shifting to remote forms of provision. We aimed to characterise what quality would look like for remote antenatal care from the perspectives of those who use, provide, and organise it.
Methods This UK-wide study, involved interviews and an online survey inviting free-text responses with: those who were or had been pregnant since March 2020; maternity professionals; and managers of maternity services and system-level stakeholders. Recruitment used network-based approaches, professional and community networks and purposively selected hospitals. Analysis of interview transcripts was based on the constant comparative method. Free-text survey responses were analysed using a coding framework developed by researchers.
Findings Participants included 106 pregnant women and 104 health care professionals, managers/stakeholders. Analysis enabled generation of a framework of the domains of quality that appear to be most relevant to stakeholders in remote antenatal care: efficiency and timeliness; effectiveness; safety; accessibility; equity and inclusion; person-centredness; and choice and continuity. Participants reported that remote care was not straightforwardly positive or negative across these domains. Care that was more transactional in nature was identified as more suitable for remote modalities, but remote care was also seen as having potential to undermine important aspects of trusting relationships and continuity, to amplify or create new forms of structural inequality, and to create possible risks to safety.
Conclusions This study offers a provisional framework that can help in structuring thinking, policy and practice. By outlining the range of domains relevant to remote antenatal care, this framework is likely to be of value in guiding policy, practice and research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Quality & Safety
Early online date12 May 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 May 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • health services research
  • healthcare quality improvement
  • obstetrics and gynecology
  • qualitative research
  • womens health


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