Antenatal Screening Practices in The Who European Region: A Mixed Methods Study

Marzia Lazzerini, Benedetta Armocida, Emanuelle Pessa Valente, Nino Berdzuli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Literature suggests an increasing trend towards more screening tests, while awareness of potential harms of screenings has been reported to be sub-optimal. This paper aimed to characterize ANC screening practices within the 53 countries of the WHO Europe Region and compare these to evidenced-based recommendations from WHO and from other key reference sources. Methods From January 2019 to July 2019 we conducted a survey among key informants (KIs) in the 53 countries of the WHO European Region and a systematic review of literature. KIs were invited to answer an online structured questionnaire, available both in English and Russian. Published and unpublished guidelines, policies or cross-sectional studies on ANC screening practices were searched for in four electronic databases (MEDLINE, Global Health Library, Web of Science, Google) and also sent by KIs. Data obtained from both methods were analysed and triangulated by two independent authors. Results Overall 42 countries participated in the survey. Among these, 36 (86%) reported national guidelines on ANC screening, but only 26 (61.9%) reported up-to-date and comprehensive guidelines. All countries reported supplemental use other guidelines, with 19 (45.2%) using more than three. When looking at current evidence-based recommendations, only one (ultrasound before 24 weeks) was reported to be implemented in all countries. Overall, 35 (83.3%) countries reported using at least five not-recommended ANC screening practices, with 21 (50%) implementing >10 not-recommended ANC screening practices. The systematic review resulted in 11871 records, with 111 (90 guidelines, 4 policies, 17 cross-sectional studies) matching inclusion criteria. Findings from the systematic review were largely consistent with those of the online survey: among the most comprehensive national guidelines identified, only six (24%) had a concordance >75% with the reference recommendations, independently from their publication date, while the few existing cross-sectional studies highlighted large heterogeneity in the implementation of ANC practices among countries. Conclusions Guidance on and implementation of evidenced-based recommendations on ANC screening is suboptimal in the WHO European Region. It is necessary to increase the availability of evidence-based high-quality national guidelines and their concrete use in routine practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Global Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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