Stillbirth is one of the most devastating pregnancy outcomes that families can experience. Previous research has associated a wide range of risk factors with stillbirth, including maternal behaviours such as substance use, sleep position and attendance and engagement with antenatal care. Hence, some preventive efforts have been focused on tackling the behavioural risk factors for stillbirth. This study aimed to identify the Behaviour Change Techniques (BCTs) used in behaviour change interventions tacking behavioural risk factors for stillbirth such as substance use, sleep position, unattendance to antenatal care and weight management.
A systematic review of the literature was conducted in June 2021 and updated in November 2022 in five databases: CINHAL, Psyhinfo, SociIndex, PubMed and Web of Science. Studies published in high-income countries describing interventions designed in the context of stillbirth prevention, reporting stillbirth rates and changes in behaviour were eligible for inclusion. BCTs were identified using the Behaviour Change Technique Taxonomy v1.
Nine interventions were included in this review identified in 16 different publications. Of these, 4 interventions focused on more than one behaviour (smoking, monitoring fetal movements, sleep position, care-seeking behaviours), one focused on smoking, three on monitoring fetal movements and one on sleep position. Twenty-seven BCTs were identified across all interventions. The most commonly used was "Information about health consequences" (n = 7/9) followed by "Adding objects to the environment" (n = 6/9). One of the interventions included in this review has not been assessed for efficacy yet, of the remaining eight, three showed results in the reduction of stillbirth rates. and four interventions produced behaviour change (smoking reductions, increased knowledge, reduced supine sleeping time).
Our findings suggest that interventions designed to date have limited effects on the rates of stillbirth and utilise a limited number of BCTs which are mostly focused on information provision. Further research is necessary to design evidence base behaviour change interventions with a greater focus to tackle all the other factors influencing behaviour change during pregnancy (e.g.: social influence, environmental barriers).