Background: The PERISTAT project aimed to develop an indicator set for monitoring and describing perinatal health in Europe. The challenge was to define indicators that cover common concerns and have the same meaning within the different European health care systems.
Methods: PERISTAT included i) a review of existing recommendations on perinatal health indicators, ii) a DELPHI consensus process with a scientific advisory committee composed of a clinician and an epidemiologist or statistician from each European member state as well as with a panel of midwives, and iii) a study of the availability of national statistics to construct recommended indicators. This article describes the first two components.
Results: The review identified 10 international and 13 national recommended indicator sets. It also included indicators routinely compiled by WHO, EUROSTAT and OECD. Because of the methodological limits to using existing indicators for European comparisons, a high priority was placed on improving indicators already collected. Using the DELPHI method based on the results of the review, the scientific committee achieved a consensus on ten core and 23 recommended indicators, including 12 requiring further development.
Conclusions: The PERISTAT project was successful in identifying a set of indicators, which drew on and consolidated previous work. Consensus was not achieved on precise indicators in areas where uncertainty about appropriate indicators was high, although areas were targeted for future development. Finally, the feasibility study, which is in progress, is an essential part of the project, since it will enable member states to evaluate their capacity to produce these indicators.