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A systematic review of behaviour change techniques used in the context of stillbirth prevention

Preventing stillbirth requires effective behaviour change interventions. Our study found limited effects of these interventions and a focus on information provision. Further research is needed to address social influence and environmental barriers.


Tamara Escañuela Sánchez, Keelin O'Donoghue

Journal Name
Women and Birth
Journal Article


Full Citation

Escañuela Sánchez T, O´Donoghue K, Byrne M, Meaney S, Matvienko-Sikar K. A systematic review of behaviour change techniques used in the context of stillbirth prevention. Women and Birth. 2023;36(5):e495-e508.

Link to Publication


Stillbirth is a tragic outcome during pregnancy, influenced by various risk factors. This research investigated behaviour change techniques (BCTs) used in interventions addressing behavioural risk factors for stillbirth, such as substance use, sleep position, lack of antenatal care attendance, and weight management. BCTs are strategies in interventions that help individuals modify their behaviours, for example providing information, adding objects or setting goals. Through a systematic review of relevant studies, we identified nine interventions targeting behaviours like smoking, fetal movement monitoring, sleep position, and appropriate care seeking during pregnancy. We used the Behaviour Change Technique Taxonomy to analyse these interventions and categorise the specific strategies employed. Our findings indicated that the interventions had limited impact on reducing stillbirth rates and mainly relied on providing information about health consequences. Some interventions incorporated techniques like adding objects to the environment. However, other behaviour change techniques, such as addressing social influences and environmental barriers, were underused. These results emphasise the need for further research to design evidence-based interventions that encompass a wider range of factors influencing behaviour change during pregnancy. By incorporating a broader assortment of techniques and considering social influences and environmental barriers, we can develop more comprehensive interventions to prevent stillbirth.

Pregnancy Loss Research Group

Pregnancy Loss Research Group, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University College Cork, Fifth Floor, Cork University Maternity Hospital, Wilton, Cork, T12 YE02, Ireland,