Informing prevention of stillbirth and preterm birth in Malawi: development of a minimum dataset for health facilities participating in the DIPLOMATIC collaboration

Jane E Norman, Beatrix Von Wissmann*, et al.

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Objective The global research group, DIPLOMATIC (Using eviDence, Implementation science, and a clinical trial PLatform to Optimise MATernal and newborn health in low Income Countries), aims to reduce stillbirths and preterm births and optimise outcomes for babies born preterm. Minimum datasets for routine data collection in healthcare facilities participating in DIPLOMATIC (initially in Malawi) were designed to assist understanding of baseline maternal and neonatal care processes and outcomes, and facilitate evaluation of improvement interventions and pragmatic clinical trials.

Design Published and grey literature was reviewed alongside extensive in-country consultation to define relevant clinical best practice guidance, and the existing local data and reporting infrastructure, to identify requirements for the minimum datasets. Data elements were subjected to iterative rounds of consultation with topic experts in Malawi and Scotland, the relevant Malawian professional bodies and the Ministry of Health in Malawi to ensure relevance, validity and feasibility.

Setting Antenatal, maternity and specialist neonatal care in Malawi.

Results The resulting three minimum datasets cover the maternal and neonatal healthcare journey for antenatal, maternity and specialist neonatal care, with provision for effective linkage of records for mother/baby pairs. They can facilitate consistent, precise recording of relevant outcomes (stillbirths, preterm births, neonatal deaths), risk factors and key care processes.

Conclusions Poor quality routine data on care processes and outcomes constrain healthcare system improvement. The datasets developed for implementation in DIPLOMATIC partner facilities reflect, and hence support delivery of, internationally agreed best practice for maternal and newborn care in low-income settings. Informed by extensive consultation, they are designed to integrate with existing local data infrastructure and reporting as well as meeting research data needs. This work provides a transferable example of strengthening data infrastructure to underpin a learning healthcare system approach in low-income settings.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere038859
Number of pages11
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2020


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