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Effect of a novel vital sign device on maternal mortality and morbidity in low-resource settings: a pragmatic, stepped-wedge, cluster-randomised controlled trial

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CRADLE Trial Collaborative Group, Nicola Vousden, Elodie Lawley, Hannah L. Nathan, Paul T. Seed, Muchabayiwa Francis Gidiri, Shivaprasad Goudar, Jane Sandall, Lucy C. Chappell, Andrew H. Shennan, Monice Kachinjika, Doreen Bukani, Jane Makwakwa, Grace Makonyola, Adrian Brown, Paul Toussaint, Adeline Vixama, Grace Greene, Carwyn Hill, Emily Nakiriija & 31 more Doreen Birungi, Noela Kalyowa, Dorothy Namakula, Josaphat Byamugisha, Annettee Nakimuli, Nathan Mackayi Odeke, James Ditai, Julius Wandabwa, Fatmata Momodou, Margaret Sesay, Patricia Sandi, Jeneba Conteh, Jesse Kamara, Matthew Clarke, Rebecca Best, Josephine Miti, Mercy Kopeka, Bellington Vwalika, Martina Chima, Thokozile Musonda, Christine Jere, Sebastian Chinkoyo, Violet Mambo, Yonas Guchale, Lomi Yadeta, Feiruz Surur, Geetanjali M. Mungarwadi, Sphoorthi S. Mastiholi, Chandrappa C. Karadiguddi, Natasha Hezelgrave, Kate E. Duhig

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e347-e356
JournalThe Lancet. Global health
Issue number3
Early online date14 Feb 2019
Accepted/In press7 Nov 2018
E-pub ahead of print14 Feb 2019
PublishedMar 2019


  • Effect of a novel vital_VOUSDEN_Accepted7November2018Publishedonline14February2019_GOLD VoR (CC BY)

    Effect_of_a_novel_vital_VOUSDEN_Accepted7November2018Publishedonline1March2019_GOLD_VoR_CC_BY_.pdf, 1.18 MB, application/pdf

    Uploaded date:01 Nov 2019

    Version:Final published version

    Licence:CC BY

  • Vousden(2018)CRADLE-3_Main_paper

    Vousden_2018_CRADLE_3_Main_paper.pdf, 1.18 MB, application/pdf

    Uploaded date:05 Mar 2019

    Version:Final published version

    Licence:CC BY-NC-ND

    2210-7789/ © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of International Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

King's Authors


Background In 2015, an estimated 303 000 women died in pregnancy and childbirth. Obstetric haemorrhage, sepsis, and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy account for more than 50% of maternal deaths worldwide. There are effective treatments for these pregnancy complications, but they require early detection by measurement of vital signs and timely administration to save lives. The primary aim of this trial was to determine whether implementation of the CRADLE Vital Sign Alert and an education package into community and facility maternity care in low-resource settings could reduce a composite of all-cause maternal mortality or major morbidity (eclampsia and hysterectomy). Methods We did a pragmatic, stepped-wedge, cluster-randomised controlled trial in ten clusters across Africa, India, and Haiti, introducing the device into routine maternity care. Each cluster contained at least one secondary or tertiary hospital and their main referral facilities. Clusters crossed over from existing routine care to the CRADLE intervention in one of nine steps at 2-monthly intervals, with CRADLE devices replacing existing equipment at the randomly allocated timepoint. A computer-generated randomly allocated sequence determined the order in which the clusters received the intervention. Because of the nature of the intervention, this trial was not masked. Data were gathered monthly, with 20 time periods of 1 month. The primary composite outcome was at least one of eclampsia, emergency hysterectomy, and maternal death. This study is registered with the ISRCTN registry, number ISRCTN41244132. Findings Between April 1, 2016, and Nov 30, 2017, among 536 223 deliveries, the primary outcome occurred in 4067 women, with 998 maternal deaths, 2692 eclampsia cases, and 681 hysterectomies. There was an 8% decrease in the primary outcome from 79·4 per 10 000 deliveries pre-intervention to 72·8 per 10 000 deliveries post-intervention (odds ratio [OR] 0·92, 95% CI 0·86–0·97; p=0·0056). After planned adjustments for variation in event rates between and within clusters over time, the unexpected degree of variability meant we were unable to judge the benefit or harms of the intervention (OR 1·22, 95% CI 0·73–2·06; p=0·45). Interpretation There was an absolute 8% reduction in primary outcome during the trial, with no change in resources or staffing, but this reduction could not be directly attributed to the intervention due to variability. We encountered unanticipated methodological challenges with this trial design, which can provide valuable learning for future research and inform the trial design of future international stepped-wedge trials. Funding Newton Fund Global Research Programme: UK Medical Research Council; Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India; and UK Department of International Development.

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