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Evaluation of the integration of group antenatal care (‘Pregnancy Circles’) within a midwifery caseloading team


1st supervisor: Prof Christine McCourt

2nd supervisor: Dr Ellinor Olander

Research Centre

Maternal and Child Health

Project description

This doctoral study will form an adjunct to the NIHR-funded REACH Pregnancy Programme, which includes a multi-site Randomised Controlled Trial of group antenatal care (gANC) called ‘Pregnancy Circles’ (PC) which will run from September 2019-2021.

This is the first RCT of gANC within the NHS. One of our participant services wishes to implement this model of care in combination with caseload midwifery, which is also being introduced in part of the service. This presents an ideal opportunity for a doctoral study, with an evaluation running alongside the main trial providing highly original research on a topic of key importance for current maternity policy in the UK, Better Births and with wide international interest.

This is a complex intervention combining two models of care. The aim of the evaluation would be:

  • To evaluate and compare the literature on women’s experiences of caseloading and of gANC (there is only one small study to date where they have been combined).
  • To explore women’s and midwives’ experiences of combining these two models of care (anticipated and unanticipated; positive and negative)
  • To explore how the context may impact on these experiences (NHS, policy, local service context, new team working across sites, urban environment, focus on vulnerable women, sustainability considerations)
  • To develop theory and knowledge in this field and recommendations for future research and practice

The PhD student will design the detail of the evaluation, including the theoretical and analytical approach.  Methods could include:

  • Observation of Pregnancy Circle sessions
  • Focus groups with women after PC sessions
  • Interviews with women postnatally (including women who decline or withdraw from this form of care)
  • Interviews with midwife facilitators
  • Interviews with other stakeholders
  • Analysis of midwife reflective diaries

The student will be supported by integration with a collegial wider team of researchers and opportunity to learn about a broad range of methods, design for complex interventions evaluation and implementation science.

Applicants should have good prior educational qualifications, knowledge and interest in the subject. Relevant disciplines include midwifery, anthropology, psychology and other social sciences.

If you would like to have an informal discussion please contact Christine.McCourt.1@city.ac.uk.