A Randomized Trial of Nurse Specialist Home Care for Women with High Risk Pregnancies: Outcomes and Costs
OBJECTIVE: To examine prenatal, maternal, and infant outcomes and costs through 1 year after delivery using a model of prenatal care for women at high risk of delivering low-birthweight infants in which half of the prenatal care was provided in women’s homes by nurse specialists with master’s degrees. STUDY DESIGN: Randomized clinical trial. PATIENTS AND METHODS: A sample of 173 women (and 194 infants) with high-risk pregnancies (gestational or pregestational diabetes mellitus, chronic hypertension, preterm labor, or high risk of preterm labor) were randomly assigned to the intervention group (85 women and 94 infants) or the control group (88 women and 100 infants). Control women received usual prenatal care. Intervention women received half of their prenatal care in their homes, with teaching, counseling, telephone outreach, daily telephone availability, and a postpartum home visit by nurse specialists with physician backup. RESULTS:For the full sample, mean maternal age was 27 years; 85.5% of women were single mothers, 36.4% had less than a high school education, 93.6% were African American, and 93.6% had public health insurance, with no differences between groups on these variables. The intervention group had lower fetal/infant mortality vs the control group (2 vs 9), 11 fewer preterm infants, more twin pregnancies carried to term (77.7% vs 33.3%), fewer prenatal hospitalizations (41 vs 49), fewer infant rehospitalizations (18 vs 24), and a savings of more than 750 total hospital days and $2,880,000. CONCLUSION: This model of care provides a reasoned solution to improving pregnancy and infant outcomes while reducing healthcare costs.