URC Employees Publish Research Article: "Task-Shifting in Maternal & Newborn Care"

Five current and former University Research Company, LLC (URC) employees -- Larissa Jennings; Andre Sourou Yebadokpo, Reproductive Health Advisor; Jean Affo, Behavior Change Communications Advisor;  Marthe Agbogbe, Capacity Building Specialist; and Aguima Tankoano, Ghana’s Chief of Party -- recently published a research article, “Task shifting in maternal and newborn care: a non-inferiority study examining delegation of antenatal counseling to lay nurse aides supported by job aids in Benin” in the online journal Implementation Science.  Jennings was a member of the Health Care Improvement Project (HCI) and Yebadokpo, Affo, Agbogbe and Tankoano are affiliated with the Benin Integrated Family Health Project (PISAF).

The HCI Project and the PISAF Project are funded by the US Agency for International Development and managed by URC.

According to the World Health Organization, task shifting is defined as the process of delegation whereby tasks are moved, where appropriate, to less specialized health workers.  The study, sampling from seven public health maternities in Zou/Collines, Benin, examines whether lay nurse aides supported by counseling job aids (tools that help people perform tasks accurately) can provide communication to pregnant women in maternal and newborn care at a similar or better rate than nurse-midwives who usually assume this role. 

The study found that counseling by lay nurse aides with the appropriate training, supervision, and job aides was comparable in effectiveness to that of nurse-midwives. Following antenatal consultation by both lay nurse aides and nurse-midwives, the pregnant women sampled in the study showed significant increases in maternal knowledge.

Nurse-midwives traditionally provide antenatal (during pregnancy) clinical and counseling services.  In Benin, they undergo three years of standardized training in obstetric gynecology and internal medicine. Their general tasks consist of:

  • Vital sign measurement
  • Counseling
  • Physical examination
  • Medication dispensation

Lay nurses receive no formal educated but are trained on-site by nurse-midwives. Their tasks consist of:

  • Assisting in taking vital signs
  • Recording height and weight
In the study "Task shifting in maternal and newborn care," job aides were used to compare nurse-midwives and lay nurse aides.
February 16, 2011