Newborn resuscitation training programmes for improving the health and survival of newborns

Review question: Does training healthcare providers in standardised formal neonatal resuscitation training (SFNRT) programmes reduce neonatal mortality and morbidity, improve acquisition and retention of knowledge and skills or change teamwork and resuscitation behaviour?

Background: One in 10 newborns need some resuscitation (first aid given when breathing or a heartbeat is not detected) at birth. There are many different newborn resuscitation programmes but the effectiveness of these programmes in decreasing deaths or brain injury due to lack of oxygen has not been reviewed.

Study characteristics: We searched for studies that evaluated the effectiveness of newborn resuscitation programmes in April 2014 and updated in March 2015 and found five community-based studies (187,080 deliveries) and nine mannequin-based studies (626 newborns).

Results and quality of the evidence: Moderate quality evidence from three studies suggested that training in newborn resuscitation probably decreases newborn deaths in the first seven days after birth. Low quality evidence from one study suggested that newborn resuscitation training may decrease newborn deaths in the first 28 days after birth. All three studies were performed in low-income settings and their findings may have limited applicability to high-income settings. We also found that teaching teamwork in addition to resuscitation training may improve team behaviour and decrease time for resuscitation (two studies, low quality evidence) but the effect on performance on resuscitation was uncertain. It is uncertain whether resuscitation programmes increase learners' knowledge and skills immediately and knowledge at six months because the quality of evidence was very low. Similarly, whether boosters to neonatal resuscitation help in retaining knowledge or performing resuscitation appropriately remain uncertain (the quality of evidence was very low). Also, whether visual or electronic aids for helping making decisions during resuscitation, improve resuscitation performance was uncertain (one study did not show effect but one electronic decision support tool with prompts improved resuscitation performance) (low quality evidence). We strongly encourage future studies to report outcomes related to long-term health, such as brain injury due to lack of oxygen, fits and long-term brain development. Effective methods to enhance teamwork behaviour, learning and retention of resuscitation knowledge and skills are needed.

Authors' conclusions: 

SFNRT compared to basic newborn care or basic newborn resuscitation, in developing countries, results in a reduction of early neonatal and 28-day mortality. Randomised trials of SFNRT should report on neonatal morbidity including hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy and neurodevelopmental outcomes. Innovative educational methods that enhance knowledge and skills and teamwork behaviour should be evaluated.

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Background: 

Approximately 10% of all newborns require resuscitation at birth. Training healthcare providers in standardised formal neonatal resuscitation training (SFNRT) programmes may improve neonatal outcomes. Substantial healthcare resources are expended on SFNRT.

Objectives: 

To determine whether SFNRT programmes reduce neonatal mortality and morbidity, improve acquisition and retention of knowledge and skills, or change teamwork and resuscitation behaviour.

Search strategy: 

We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, PREMEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Web of Science and the Oxford Database of Perinatal Trials, ongoing trials and conference proceedings in April 2014 and updated in March 2015.

Selection criteria: 

Randomised or quasi-randomised trials including cluster-randomised trials, comparing a SFNRT with no SFNRT, additions to SFNRT or types of SFNRT, and reporting at least one of our specified outcomes.

Data collection and analysis: 

Two authors extracted data independently and performed statistical analyses including typical risk ratio (RR), risk difference (RD), mean difference (MD), and number needed to treat for an additional beneficial outcome (NNTB) or an additional harmful outcome (NNTH) (all with 95% confidence intervals (CI)). We analysed cluster-randomised trials using the generic inverse variance and the approximate analysis methods.

Main results: 

We identified two community-based and three manikin-based trials that assessed the effect of SFNRT compared with no SFNRT. Very low quality evidence from one study suggested improvement in acquisition of knowledge (RR 5.96, 95% CI 3.60 to 9.87) and skills (RR 170, 95% CI 10.8 to 2711) and retention of knowledge (RR 3.60, 95% CI 2.43 to 5.35) and the other study suggested improvement in resuscitation and behavioural scores.

We identified three community-based cluster-randomised trials in developing countries comparing SFNRT with basic resuscitation training (Early Newborn Care). In this setting, there was moderate quality evidence that SFNRT decreased early neonatal mortality (typical RR 0.88, 95% CI 0.78 to 1.00; 3 studies, 66,162 neonates) and when analysed by the approximate analysis method (typical RR 0.85, 95% CI 0.75 to 0.96; RD -0.0044, 95% CI -0.0082 to -0.0006; NNTB 227, 95% CI 122 to 1667). Low quality evidence from one trial showed that SFNRT may decrease 28-day mortality (typical RR 0.55, 95% CI 0.33 to 0.91) but the effect on late neonatal mortality was more uncertain (typical RR 0.47, 95% CI 0.20 to 1.11). None of our a priori defined neonatal morbidities were reported. We did not identify any randomised studies in the developed world.

We identified two trials that compared SFNRT with team training to SFNRT. Teamwork training of physician trainees with simulation may increase any teamwork behaviour (assessed by frequency) (MD 2.41, 95% CI 1.72 to 3.11) and decrease resuscitation duration (MD -149.54, 95% CI -214.73 to -84.34) but may lead to little or no difference in Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) scores (MD 1.40, 95% CI -2.02 to 4.82; 98 participants, low quality evidence).

We identified two trials that compared SFNRT with booster courses to SFNRT. It is uncertain whether booster courses improve retention of resuscitation knowledge (84 participants, very low quality evidence) but may improve procedural and behavioural skills (40 participants, very low quality evidence).

We identified two trials on decision support tools, one on a cognitive aid that did not change resuscitation scores and the other on an electronic decision support tool that improved the frequency of correct decision making on positive pressure ventilation, cardiac compressions and frequency of fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2) adjustments (97 participants, very low quality evidence).

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