Ambulatory versus inpatient management of severe nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: a randomised control trial with patient preference arm

BMJ Open. 2017 Dec 5;7(12):e017566. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017566.


Objective: To determine whether ambulatory (outpatient (OP)) treatment of severe nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP) is as effective as inpatient (IP) care.

Design: Non-blinded randomised control trial (RCT) with patient preference arm.

Setting: Two multicentre teaching hospitals in London.

Participants: Women less than 20 weeks' pregnant with severe NVP and associated ketonuria (>1+).

Methods: Women who agreed to the RCT were randomised via web-based application to either ambulatory or IP treatment. Women who declined randomisation underwent the treatment of their choice in the patient preference trial (PPT) arm. Treatment protocols, data collection and follow-up were the same for all participants.

Main outcome measures: Primary outcome was reduction in Pregnancy Unique Quantification of Emesis (PUQE) score 48 hours after starting treatment. Secondary outcome measures were duration of treatment, improvement in symptom scores and ketonuria at 48 hours, reattendances within 7 days of discharge and comparison of symptoms at 7 days postdischarge.

Results: 152/174 eligible women agreed to participate with 77/152 (51%) recruited to the RCT and 75/152 (49%) to the PPT.Patients were initially compared in four groups (randomised IP, randomised OP, non-randomised IP and non-randomised OP). Comprehensive cohort analysis of participants in the randomised group (RCT) and non-randomised group (PPT) did not demonstrate any differences in patient demographics or baseline clinical characteristics. Pooled analysis of IP versus OP groups showed no difference in reduction in PUQE score at 48 hours (p=0.86). There was no difference in change in eating score (p=0.69), drinking score (p=0.77), well-being rating (p=0.64) or reduction in ketonuria (p=0.47) at 48 hours, with no difference in duration of index treatment episode (p=0.83) or reattendances within 7 days (p=0.52).

Conclusions: Ambulatory management is an effective direct alternative to IP management of severe NVP. The trial also demonstrated that many women requiring treatment for severe NVP have strong preferences regarding treatment setting, which may need to be considered by care providers, especially given the psychological impact of severe NVP.

Trial registration number: (March 2014).

Keywords: ambulatory; nausea; pregnancy; treatment efficacy; vomiting.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care / psychology*
  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / psychology*
  • Inpatients / statistics & numerical data
  • London
  • Nausea / psychology
  • Nausea / therapy*
  • Patient Preference / psychology
  • Patient Preference / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vomiting / psychology
  • Vomiting / therapy*