Objective: To evaluate the impact of a sustained, community-based collaborative approach to antenatal care services for Indigenous women.
Design: Prospective quality improvement intervention, the Mums and Babies program, in a cohort of women attending Townsville Aboriginal and Islanders Health Service, 1 January 2000 - 31 December 2005 (MB group), compared with a historical control group (PreMB group), 1 January 1998 - 30 June 1999.
Main outcome measures: Proportion of women having inadequate antenatal care and screening; perinatal indicators.
Results: The number of antenatal visits per pregnancy increased from three (interquartile range [IQR], two to six) in the PreMB group to six (IQR, four to ten) in the MB group (P < 0.001). There were significant improvements in care planning, completion of cycle-of-care, and antenatal education activities throughout the study period. About 90% of all women attending for antenatal care were screened for sexually transmitted diseases, 89% had measurement of haemoglobin level, and serological tests for hepatitis B and syphilis (minimum antenatal screening). There was increased attendance for dating and morphology scans. In the MB group compared with the PreMB group, there was a significant reduction in perinatal mortality (14 v 60 per 1000 births; P = 0.014).
Conclusion: Sustained access to a community-based, integrated, shared antenatal service has improved perinatal outcomes among Indigenous women in Townsville.