The effects of continuity of care on the health of mother and child in the postnatal period: A systematic review

Florence D'Haenens, Bart Van Rompaey, Eva Swinnen, Tinne Dilles, Katrien Beeckman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)



Continuity of care (COC) is essential for high-quality patient care in the perinatal period. Insights in the effects of COC models on patient outcomes are important to direct perinatal healthcare organization. To our knowledge, no previous review has listed the effects of COC on the physical and mental health of mother and child in the postnatal period.


A search was conducted in four databases (PubMed, Web of Knowledge, CENTRAL and CINAHL), from 2000 to 2018. Studies were included if: participants were healthy mothers or newborns with a gestational age between 37-42 weeks; they covered the perinatal period and aimed to measure breastfeeding or any outcome related to the maternal/newborn physical or mental health. At least one of the three COC types (management, informational and relationship) was identified in the intervention. The methodological quality was assessed.


Ten articles were included. COC is mostly present in the identified care models. The effects of COC on the outcomes of mother and child in the postnatal period seem mostly to be positive, although not always significant. The relation between COC and the outcomes can be influenced by confounding factors, like the socio-economic status of the included population. Interventions with COC during pregnancy appear to be more effective for all the studied outcome factors.


COC as management, relational and informational continuity starting antenatal has the most impact on the postnatal outcomes of mother and child.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)749-760
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
Early online dateMay 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


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