Background: Continuity of care by a primary midwife during the antenatal, intrapartum and postpartum periods has been recommended in Australia and many hospitals have introduced a caseload midwifery model of care. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the effect of caseload midwifery on women's satisfaction with care across the maternity continuum.
Methods: Pregnant women at low risk of complications, booking for care at a tertiary hospital in Melbourne, Australia, were recruited to a randomised controlled trial between September 2007 and June 2010. Women were randomised to caseload midwifery or standard care. The caseload model included antenatal, intrapartum and postpartum care from a primary midwife with back-up provided by another known midwife when necessary. Women allocated to standard care received midwife-led care with varying levels of continuity, junior obstetric care, or community-based general practitioner care. Data for this paper were collected by background questionnaire prior to randomisation and a follow-up questionnaire sent at two months postpartum. The primary analysis was by intention to treat. A secondary analysis explored the effect of intrapartum continuity of carer on overall satisfaction rating.
Results: Two thousand, three hundred fourteen women were randomised: 1,156 to caseload care and 1,158 to standard care. The response rate to the two month survey was 88% in the caseload group and 74% in the standard care group. Compared with standard care, caseload care was associated with higher overall ratings of satisfaction with antenatal care (OR 3.35; 95% CI 2.79, 4.03), intrapartum care (OR 2.14; 95% CI 1.78, 2.57), hospital postpartum care (OR 1.56, 95% CI 1.32, 1.85) and home-based postpartum care (OR 3.19; 95% CI 2.64, 3.85).
Conclusion: For women at low risk of medical complications, caseload midwifery increases women's satisfaction with antenatal, intrapartum and postpartum care.
Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN012607000073404 (registration complete 23rd January 2007).