Providing antenatal corticosteroids for preterm birth: a quality improvement initiative in Cambodia and the Philippines

Int J Qual Health Care. 2016 Dec 1;28(6):682-688. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzw095.


Objective: To determine whether a simple quality improvement initiative consisting of a technical update and regular audit and feedback sessions will result in increased use of antenatal corticosteroids among pregnant women at risk of imminent preterm birth delivering at health facilities in the Philippines and Cambodia.

Design: Non-randomized, observational study using a pre-/post-intervention design conducted between October 2013 and June 2014.

Setting: A total of 12 high volume facilities providing Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care services in Cambodia (6) and Philippines (6).

Intervention: A technical update on preterm birth and use of antenatal corticosteroids, followed by monthly audit and feedback sessions.

Main outcome measure: The proportion of women at risk of imminent preterm birth who received at least one dose of dexamethasone.

Results: Coverage of at least one dose of dexamethasone increased from 35% at baseline to 86% at endline in Cambodia (P < 0.0001) and from 34% at baseline to 56% at endline in the Philippines (P < 0.0001), among women who had births at 24-36 weeks. In both settings baseline coverage and magnitude of improvement varied notably by facility. Availability of dexamethasone, knowledge of use and cost were not major barriers to coverage.

Conclusions: A simple quality improvement strategy was feasible and effective in increasing use of dexamethasone in the management of preterm birth in 12 hospitals in Cambodia and Philippines.

Keywords: Cambodia; Philippines; dexamethasone; premature birth; quality improvement.

MeSH terms

  • Cambodia
  • Dexamethasone / administration & dosage
  • Dexamethasone / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Philippines
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth / prevention & control*
  • Prenatal Care / methods
  • Quality Improvement / organization & administration*
  • Quality Improvement / statistics & numerical data


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Dexamethasone