An integrated primary care-based programme of PRE-Pregnancy cARE to improve pregnancy outcomes in women with type 2 Diabetes (The PREPARED study): protocol for a multi-method study of implementation, system adaptation and performance

Rita Forde, Olubunmi Abiola, Janet Anderson, Debra Bick, Anna Brackenridge, Anita Banerjee, Mark Chamley, Kia-chong Chua, Lily Hopkins, Katharine Hunt, Helen R. Murphy, Helen Rogers, Renee Romeo, James Shearer, Kirsty Winkley, Angus Forbes

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Background: The number of women of childbearing age with Type 2 diabetes(T2DM) is increasing, and they now account for > 50% of pregnancies in women with pre-existing diabetes. Diabetes pregnancies without adequate pre-pregnancy care have higher risk for poor outcomes (miscarriages, birth-defects, stillbirths) and are associated with increased complications (caesarean deliveries, macrosomic babies, neonatal intensive-care admissions). The risks and costs of these pregnancies can be reduced with pregnancy preparation (HbA1c, ≤ 6.5%, 5 mg folic acid and stopping potentially harmful medicines). However, 90% of women with T2DM, most of whom are based in primary care, are not adequately prepared for pregnancy. This study will evaluate a programme of primary care-based interventions (decision-support systems; pre-pregnancy care-pathways; pregnancy-awareness resources; professional training; and performance monitoring) to improve pregnancy preparation in women with T2DM.

Methods: The study aims to optimise the programme interventions and estimate their impact on pregnancy preparation, pre-pregnancy care uptake and pregnancy outcomes. To evaluate this multimodal intervention, we will use a multi-method research design following Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) theory, refining the interventions iteratively during the study. Thirty GP practices with ≥ 25 women with T2DM of reproductive age (18–45 years) from two South London boroughs will be exposed to the intervention. This will provide > 750 women with an estimated pregnancy incidence of 80–100 to study. The research involves: a clinical audit of processes and outcomes; a process evaluation informing intervention feasibility, implementation, and behaviour change; and a cost-consequences analysis informing future economic evaluation. Performance data will be collected via audits of GP systems, hospital antenatal clinics and pregnancy outcomes. Following CAS theory, we will use repeated measurements to monitor intervention impact on pregnancy preparation markers at 4-monthly intervals over 18-months. We will use performance and feasibility data to optimise intervention effects iteratively. The target performance for the intervention is a 30% increase in the proportion of women meeting pre-pregnancy care criteria.

Discussion: The primary output will be development of an integrated programme of interventions to improve pregnancy preparation, pre-pregnancy care uptake, and reduce adverse pregnancy outcomes in women with T2DM. We will also develop an implementation plan to support the introduction of the interventions across the NHS.
Original languageEnglish
Article number76
JournalBMC Primary Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2022


  • Complex adaptive systems
  • Pre-pregnancy care
  • Primary care
  • Type 2 diabetes

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