Background: The East Africa Preterm Birth Initiative-Rwanda began a cluster randomized controlled trial of group antenatal care (ANC) and postnatal care (PNC) in Rwanda in 2017. That trial will report its primary outcome, gestational length at birth, after data collection concludes in 2019. This nested study includes providers of ANC and/or PNC at the 18 health centers randomized to provide the group model of ANC/PNC and the 18 health centers randomized to continue providing ANC/PNC in the traditional, individual visit model. The objective of this study is to understand the experiences of providers of group ANC/PNC and compare their job satisfaction and perceived stress with individual ANC/PNC providers.
Methods: We collected both quantitative and qualitative data from providers (nurses and midwives) who were recruited by health center directors to participate as group ANC and PNC facilitators at intervention sites and from a similar number of providers of standard ANC and PNC at control sites. Quantitative data was collected with questionnaires administered at baseline and approximately 9 months later (follow up). Qualitative data was collected in 3 focus groups of group ANC/PNC providers conducted one year after group care began.
Results: Eighty-six percent of nurses and midwives surveyed who implemented group ANC and PNC reported that they prefer group care to the traditional individual model of ANC and PNC. Perceived stress levels and job satisfaction results were similar between groups. Mixed focus group discussions among both nurses and midwives experienced in group ANC and PNC suggest that the group model of care has advantages for both service beneficiaries and providers. When providers described implementation challenges, their peers in the focus groups offered them suggestions to cope and improve service delivery.
Discussion: These results are consistent with studies of providers of group ANC and PNC in other LMIC contexts with respect to the perceived benefits of group care. This study adds new insights into the ways peer providers can help one another solve implementation problems. When given the opportunity to meet as a group, these study participants offered one another peer support and shared knowledge about best practices for successful implementation of group ANC/PNC. This trial is registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT03154177.