Obtaining granular data on events and circumstances leading to severe maternal morbidity (SMM) could complement large epidemiologic studies and enable targeted interventions to improve maternal health. This study aims to assess the feasibility of gathering such data from maternity units across Canada through a Canadian Obstetric Survey System (CanOSS).
The study is a sequential explanatory mixed-methods study, the first step of which is a nationwide survey of maternity unit leads. Semistructured qualitative interviews are being conducted with unit leads that expressed interest in response to the survey. Responses are reported using proportions and percentages. Interviews are being thematically analyzed. This study was approved by the Hamilton Integrated Research Ethics Board (HiREB) #14002.
As of October 18, 2022, we have identified 306 maternity units nationally, and sent 218 surveys, with 59 maternity units across 8 provinces completing. Among these, 34 (83%) report having a system in place for reviewing SMM, conducted on an as-needed basis in 61% of units, and most commonly involving a multidisciplinary panel of experts with representation from nursing (85%), maternity unit leadership (79%), and hospital management (74%). A written report is prepared following 76% of meetings. Findings are shared with health care professionals involved in the event and formulated into recommendations in 79% and 82% of units, respectively. Importantly, 78% of respondents would be willing to contribute anonymized data on SMM within a centralized reporting system. Interviews have taken place with 14 unit leads. Interviewed participants unanimously agree that an obstetric survey system is needed. Concerns raised include privacy, resources, funding, and having a clear definition of SMM.
This feasibility study will facilitate future planning, clarify barriers to be addressed, and resource implications for gathering data on SMM at a national level, and lay the foundations for a future CanOSS.