Background: Concerted quality improvement (QI) efforts have been taken to discourage the practice of early elective deliveries (EEDs), but few studies have robustly examined the impact of directed QI interventions in reducing EED practices. Using quasi-experimental methods, we sought to evaluate the impact of a statewide QI intervention to reduce the practice of EEDs.

Methods: Retrospective cohort study of vital records data (2007 to 2013) for all singleton births occurring ≥36 weeks in 66 Tennessee hospitals grouped into three QI cohorts. We used interrupted-time series to estimate the effect of the QI intervention on the likelihood of an EED birth statewide, and by hospital cohort. We compared the distribution of hospital EED percentages pre- and post-intervention. Lastly, we used multivariable logistic regression to estimate the effect of QI interventions on maternal and infant outcomes.

Results: Implementation of the QI intervention was associated with significant declines in likelihood of EEDs immediately following the intervention (odds ratio, OR = 0.72; p < 0.001), but these results varied by hospital cohort. Hospital risk-adjusted EED percentages ranged from 1.6–13.6% in the pre-intervention period, which significantly declined to 2.2–9.6% in the post-intervention period (p < 0.001). The QI intervention was also associated with significant reductions in operative vaginal delivery and perineal laceration, and immediate infant ventilation, but increased NICU admissions.

Conclusions: A statewide QI intervention to reduce EEDs was associated with modest but significant declines in EEDs beyond concurrent and national trends, and showed mixed results in related infant and maternal outcomes.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in BMC Health Services Research, v. 19, article no. 208, p. 1-8.

© The Author(s). 2019

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Funding Information

This study was funded in part by the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs through a generous grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care was funded under a Grant Contract with the State of Tennessee through the Tennessee Department of Health, and was supported by Federal funds from CFDA 93.778 through the Bureau of TennCare.

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The data that support the findings of this study are available from the Division of Health Statistics in the Tennessee Department of Health but restrictions apply to the availability of these data, which were used under license for the current study, and so are not publicly available.

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Additional file 1: Table S1.

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Additional file 2: Appendix.

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Additional file 3: Figure S1.