We assessed the effects of a nurse mentoring program on neonatal mortality in eight districts in India.
From 2012 to 2015, nurse mentors supported improvements in critical MNCH-related practices among health providers at primary health centres (PHCs) in northern Karnataka, South India. Baseline (n = 5240) and endline (n = 5154) surveys of randomly selected ever-married women were conducted. Neonatal mortality rates (NMR) among the last live-born children in the three years prior to each survey delivered in NM and non-NM-supported facilities were calculated and compared using survival analysis and cumulative hazard function. Mortality rates on days 1, 2–7 and 8–28 post-partum were compared. Cox survival regression analysis measured the adjusted effect on neonatal mortality of delivering in a nurse mentor supported facility.
Overall, neonatal mortality rate in the three years preceding the baseline and endline surveys was 30.5 (95% CI24.3–38.4) and 21.6 (95% CI 16.3–28.7) respectively. There was a substantial decline in neonatal mortality between the survey rounds among children delivered in PHCs supported by NM: 29.4 (95% CI 18.1–47.5) vs. 9.3 (95% CI 3.9–22.3) (p = 0.09). No significant declines in neonatal mortality rate were observed among children delivered in other facilities or at home. In regression analysis, among children born in nurse mentor supported facilities, the estimated hazard ratio at endline was significantly lower compared with baseline (HR: 0.23, 95% CI: 0.06–0.82, p = 0.02).
The nurse mentoring program was associated with a substantial reduction in neonatal mortality. Further research is warranted to delineate whether this may be an effective strategy for reducing NMR in resource-poor settings.