IMplementation of the Preterm Birth Surveillance PAthway: a RealisT evaluation (The IMPART Study)

Naomi Carlisle*, Sonia Dalkin, Andrew H Shennan, Jane Sandall

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: In the UK, 7.6% of babies are born preterm, which the Department of Health aims to decrease to 6% by 2025. To advance this, NHS England released Saving Babies Lives Care Bundle Version 2 Element 5, recommending the Preterm Birth Pathway for women at risk of preterm birth. The success of this new pathway depends on its implementation. The IMPART (IMplementation of the Preterm Birth Surveillance PAthway: a RealisT evaluation) study aimed to research how, why, for whom, to what extent and in what contexts the prediction and prevention aspects of Preterm Birth Surveillance Pathway is implemented through a realist evaluation. Realist implementation studies are growing in popularity.

Methods: Initial programme theories were developed through a realist informed literature scope, interviews with developers of the NHS England guidance, and a national questionnaire of current practice. Implementation theory was utilised in developing the programme theories. Data (interviews and observations with staff and women) were undertaken in 3 case sites in England to ‘test’ the programme theories. Substantive theory was utilised during data analysis to interpret and refine the theories on how implementation could be improved.

Results: Three explanatory areas were developed: risk assessing and referral; the preterm birth surveillance clinic; and women centred care. Explanatory area 1 dealt with the problems in correct risk assessment and referral to a preterm clinic. Explanatory area 2 focused on how once a correct referral has been made to a preterm clinic, knowledgeable and supported clinicians can deliver a well-functioning clinic. Explanatory area 3 concentrated on how the pathway delivers appropriate care to women.

Conclusions: The IMPART study provides several areas where implementation could be improved. These include educating clinicians on knowledge of risk factors and the purpose of the preterm clinic, having a multidisciplinary preterm team (including a preterm midwife) with specialist preterm knowledge and skills (including transvaginal cervical scanning skills), and sites actively working with their local network. This multidisciplinary preterm team are placed to deliver continuity of care for women at high-risk of preterm birth, being attentive to their history but also ensuring they are not defined by their risk status. Trial registration: ISRCTN57127874.
Original languageEnglish
Article number57
Number of pages15
JournalImplementation Science Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2024

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