Implementation of national antenatal hypertension guidelines: A multicentre multiple methods study

Rebecca Whybrow*, Louise Webster, Joanna Girling, Heather Brown, Hannah Wilson, Jane Sandall, Lucy Chappell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objective To evaluate the implementation of National Institute for Health and Care Excellence antenatal hypertension guidelines, to identify strategies to reduce incidences of severe hypertension and associated maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality in pregnant women with chronic hypertension. Methods We used a multiple method multisite approach to establish implementation of guidelines and the associated barriers and facilitators. We used a national survey of healthcare professionals (n=97), case notes review (n=55) and structured observations (n=42) to assess implementation. The barriers and facilitators to implementation were identified from semistructured qualitative interviews with healthcare professionals (n=13) and pregnant women (n=18) using inductive thematic analysis. The findings were integrated and evaluated using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research. Setting and participants Pregnant women with chronic hypertension and their principal carers (obstetricians, midwives and physicians), at three National Health Service hospital trusts with different models of care. Results We found severe hypertension to be prevalent (46% of case notes reviewed) and target blood pressure practices to be suboptimal (56% of women had an antenatal blood pressure target documented). Women were infrequently given information (52%) or offered choice (19%) regarding antihypertensives. Women (14/18) reported internal conflict in taking antihypertensives and non-adherence was prevalent (8/18). Women who were concordant with treatment recommendations described having mutual trust with professionals mediated through appropriate information, side effect management and involvement in decision making. Professionals reported needing updates and tools for target blood pressure setting and shared decision making underpinned by antihypertensive safety and effectiveness research. Conclusions Women's non-adherence to antihypertensives is higher than anticipated. Suboptimal information provision around treatment, choice of antihypertensives and target setting practices by healthcare professionals may be contributory. Understanding the reasons for non-adherence will inform education and decision-making strategies needed to address both clinician and women's behaviour. Further research into the effectiveness and long-term safety of common antihypertensives is also required.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere035762
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2020


  • hypertension
  • maternal medicine
  • obstetrics


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