Objective: To evaluate the effect of a continuum-of-care intervention package on adequate contacts of women and newborn with healthcare providers and their reception of high-quality care.
Design: Cluster randomised controlled trial.
Setting: 32 subdistricts in 3 rural sites in Ghana.
Participants: The baseline survey involved 1480 women who delivered before the trial, and the follow-up survey involved 1490 women who received maternal and newborn care during the trial.
Interventions: The intervention package included training healthcare providers, using an educational and recording tool named 'continuum-of-care card', providing the first postnatal care (PNC) by retaining women and newborns at healthcare facility or home visit by healthcare providers.
Outcome measures: Adequate contacts were defined as at least four contacts during pregnancy, delivery with assistance of skilled healthcare providers at a healthcare facility and three timely contacts within 6 weeks postpartum. High-quality care was defined as receiving 6 care items for antenatal care (ANC), 3 for peripartum care (PPC) and 14 for PNC.
Results: The difference-in-difference method was used to assess the effects of the intervention on the study outcome. The percentage of adequate contacts with high-quality care in the intervention group in the follow-up survey and the adjusted difference-in-difference estimators were 12.6% and 2.2 (p=0.61) at ANC, 31.5% and 1.9 (p=0.73) at PPC and 33.7% and 12.3 (p=0.13) at PNC in the intention-to-treat design, whereas 13.0% and 2.8 (p=0.54) at ANC, 34.2% and 2.7 (p=0.66) at PPC and 38.1% and 18.1 (p=0.02) at PNC in the per-protocol design that assigned the study sample by possession of the continuum-of-care card.
Conclusions: The interventions improved contacts with healthcare providers and quality of care during PNC. However, having adequate contact did not guarantee high-quality care. Maternal and newborn care in Ghana needs to improve its continuity and quality.
Trial registration number: ISRCTN90618993. .
Keywords: community child health; maternal medicine; quality in health care.
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