Coaching can improve the quality of care in primary-level birth facilities and promote birth attendant adherence to essential birth practices (EBPs) that reduce maternal and perinatal mortality. The intensity of coaching needed to promote and sustain behavior change is unknown. We investigated the relationship between coaching intensity, EBP adherence, and maternal and perinatal health outcomes using data from the BetterBirth Trial, which assessed the impact of a complex, coaching-based implementation of the World Health Organization’s Safe Childbirth Checklist in Uttar Pradesh, India.
For each birth, we defined multiple coaching intensity metrics, including coaching frequency (coaching visits per month), cumulative coaching (total coaching visits accrued during the intervention), and scheduling adherence (coaching delivered as scheduled). We considered coaching delivered at both facility and birth attendant levels. We assessed the association between coaching intensity and birth attendant adherence to 18 EBPs and with maternal and perinatal health outcomes using regression models.
Coaching frequency was associated with modestly increased EBP adherence. Delivering 6 coaching visits per month to facilities was associated with adherence to 1.3 additional EBPs (95% confidence interval [CI]=0.6, 1.9). High-frequency coaching delivered with high coverage among birth attendants was associated with greater improvements: providing 70% of birth attendants at a facility with at least 1 visit per month was associated with adherence to 2.0 additional EBPs (95% CI=1.0, 2.9). Neither cumulative coaching nor scheduling adherence was associated with EBP adherence. Coaching was generally not associated with health outcomes, possibly due to the small magnitude of association between coaching and EBP adherence.
Frequent coaching may promote behavior change, especially if delivered with high coverage among birth attendants. However, the effects of coaching were modest and did not persist over time, suggesting that future coaching-based interventions should explore providing frequent coaching for longer periods.