Research priorities for maternal and perinatal health clinical trials and methods used to identify them: A systematic review

Published:November 23, 2022DOI:


      • Research prioritisation helps to focus research resource towards population needs.
      • There is a broad spectrum of research priorities in maternal and perinatal health.
      • Most identified priorities relate to healthcare services, pregnancy and newborn health.
      • Most of research priorities were of global relevance.
      • Unexpectedly maternal mental health research priorities were infrequently identified.



      Research prioritisation helps to target research resources to the most pressing health and healthcare needs of a population. This systematic review aimed to report research priorities in maternal and perinatal health and to assess the methods that were used to identify them.


      A systematic review was undertaken. Projects that aimed to identify research priorities that were considered to be amenable to clinical trials research were eligible for inclusion. The search, limited to the last decade and publications in English, included MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINHAL, relevant Cochrane priority lists, Cochrane Priority Setting Methods Group homepage, James Lind Alliance homepage, Joanna Brigg’s register, PROSPERO register, reference lists of all included articles, grey literature, and the websites of relevant professional bodies, until 13 October 2020. The methods used for prioritisation were appraised using the Reporting Guideline for Priority Setting of Health Research (REPRISE).


      From the 62 included projects, 757 research priorities of relevance to maternal and perinatal health were identified. The most common priorities related to healthcare systems and services, pregnancy care and complications, and newborn care and complications. The least common priorities related to preconception and postpartum health, maternal mental health, contraception and pregnancy termination, and fetal medicine and surveillance.
      The most commonly used prioritisation methods were Delphi (20, 32%), Child Health Nutrition Research Initiative (17, 27%) and the James Lind Alliance (10, 16%). The fourteen projects (23%) that reported on at least 80% of the items included in the REPRISE guideline all used an established research prioritisation method.


      There are a large number of diverse research priorities in maternal and perinatal health that are amenable to future clinical trials research. These have been identified by a variety of research prioritisation methods.


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