Group antenatal care models in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic evidence synthesis

Reprod Health. 2018 Mar 5;15(1):38. doi: 10.1186/s12978-018-0476-9.


In high-income countries, group antenatal care (ANC) offers an alternative to individual care and is associated with improved attendance, client satisfaction, and health outcomes for pregnant women and newborns. In low- and middle-income country (LMIC) settings, this model could be adapted to address low antenatal care uptake and improve quality. However, evidence on key attributes of a group care model for low-resource settings remains scant. We conducted a systematic review of the published literature on models of group antenatal care in LMICs to identify attributes that may increase the relevance, acceptability and effectiveness of group ANC in such settings. We systematically searched five databases and conducted hand and reference searches. We also conducted key informant interviews with researchers and program implementers who have introduced group antenatal care models in LMICs. Using a pre-defined evidence summary template, we extracted evidence on key attributes-like session content and frequency, and group composition and organization-of group care models introduced across LMIC settings. Our systematic literature review identified nine unique descriptions of group antenatal care models. We supplemented this information with evidence from 10 key informant interviews. We synthesized evidence from these 19 data sources to identify attributes of group care models for pregnant women that appeared consistently across all of them. We considered these components that are fundamental to the delivery of group antenatal care. We also identified attributes that need to be tailored to the context in which they are implemented to meet local standards for comprehensive ANC, for example, the number of sessions and the session content. We compiled these attributes to codify a composite "generic" model of group antenatal care for adaptation and implementation in LMIC settings. With this combination of standard and flexible components, group antenatal care, a service delivery alternative that has been successfully introduced and implemented in high-income country settings, can be adapted for improving provision and experiences of care for pregnant women in LMIC. Any conclusions about the benefits of this model for women, babies, and health systems in LMICs, however, must be based on robust evaluations of group antenatal care programs in those settings.

Keywords: Antenatal care; Group care during pregnancy; Prenatal care; Qualitative evidence synthesis; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • Health Resources*
  • Humans
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Poverty
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / methods*
  • Prenatal Care / standards