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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Accurate diagnosis of preterm labour is needed to ensure correct management of those most at risk of preterm birth and to prevent the maternal and fetal risks incurred by unnecessary interventions given to the large majority of women, who do not deliver within a week of presentation. Intervention "just-in-case" results in many avoidable admissions, women being transferred out of their local hospital unnecessarily and most women receiving unwarranted drugs, such as steroids and tocolytics. It also precludes appropriate transfers for others as neonatal cots are blocked pre-emptively, resulting in more dangerous ex-utero transfers. We have developed the QUiPP App which is a clinical decision-making aid based on previous outcomes of women, quantitative fetal fibronectin (qfFN) values and cervical length. It is hypothesised that using the QUiPP app will reduce inappropriate admissions and transfers.

METHODS: A multi-site cluster randomised trial will evaluate whether the QUiPP app reduces inappropriate management for threatened preterm labour. The 13 participating centres will be randomly allocated to receive either intervention or control. If the QUiPP app calculates risk of delivery within 7 days to be is less than 5%, clinicians are advised that interventions may be withheld. Women's experience of threatened preterm labour assessment will be explored using self-completed questionnaires, with a subset of participants being invited to semi-structured interview. A health economics analysis is also planned.

DISCUSSION: We hypothesise that the QUiPP app will improve identification of the most appropriate women for admission and transfer and ensure that therapies known to reduce risk of preterm neonatal morbidities are offered to those who need them. We will determine which women do not require these therapies, thereby reducing over-medicalisation and the associated maternal and fetal risks for these women. The findings will inform future national guidelines on threatened preterm labour. Beyond obstetrics, evaluating the impact of an app in an emergency setting, and our emphasis on balancing harms of over-treatment as well as under-treatment, make EQUIPTT a valuable contribution to translational medicine.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: The EQUIPTT trial was prospectively registered on 16th January 2018 with the ISRCTN registry (no. 17846337 ).

Original languageEnglish
Article number68
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2019

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