Using epidemiological and health economic measures to inform maternity staffing decisions: A guide

Published:December 23, 2021DOI:



      There is growing concern around unnecessary intervention (particularly caesarean section) at birth in high-income countries. Caseload midwifery care aims to offset this, but is perceived to be costly to health services.


      To use epidemiological and health economic techniques to estimate health outcomes and cost-savings of different levels of equivalent full time (EFT) midwives working in caseload midwifery care.


      Two simulations were conducted — one assuming 10 EFT midwives working in a caseload model, with 35 women per caseload, and one assuming 50 EFT midwives working in a caseload model, with 45 women per caseload. Both were based on a sample of 5000 women. The main model inputs included rates of health outcomes for women (caesarean section, epidural anaesthesia, and episiotomy) and infants (low birthweight and admissions to special care nursery (SCN) or neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)), and the cost savings associated with health outcome avoidance.


      The first simulation estimated 27 fewer caesarean sections, 12 fewer epidurals, 12 fewer episiotomies, 10 fewer low birthweight births, and 23 fewer infants admitted to SCN or NICU annually, at a total cost saving of AU$1,874,715. The second simulation estimated 173 fewer caesarean sections, 76 fewer epidurals, 76 fewer episiotomies, 65 fewer low birthweight births, and 150 fewer infants admitted to SCN or NICU annually, at a total cost saving of AU$12,051,741.


      This study provides local-level decision-makers with a decision-tool to calculate the potentially avoidable health outcomes and cost savings associated with implementing caseload midwifery care in their own service.


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