• pregnancy;
  • scheduling systems;
  • group health care visits;
  • CenteringPregnancy

Group care is an effective approach to prenatal care. Yet difficulties in recruiting, enrolling, and scheduling women into group care present obstacles to optimal program delivery. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the use of a scheduling system based on women's estimated date of delivery (EDD) decreased gestational age at entry to group care, increased attendance, and improved continuity of care. A total of 13 groups were held; seven groups used a scheduling system based on appointment availability and six groups used a scheduling system based on women's EDD. Compared with the availability-based scheduling system, the EDD-based system decreased mean gestational age (23.2 vs. 21.8 weeks; P = .058) and significantly decreased mean maximum gestational age (31.0 vs. 26.3 weeks; P = .002) at entry to group care. The EDD-based system increased the mean number of sessions offered per group (6.7 vs. 8.2 sessions; P < .001); however, attendance rates were similar across systems. The EDD-based system also increased the percentage of women who had the same initial visit and group provider (78.0% vs. 85.5%; P = .303). The use of this system by other health care facilities could ease the task of enrolling a sufficient number of participants into group care, minimize the need for women to change care providers if they desire group care, and allow more time for educational activities and the development of social networks for women by offering more sessions per group.