Background: Preterm birth is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality for children under five years with First Nations babies experiencing twice the rate of other Australians. The Birthing in Our Community (BiOC) service was implemented in a metropolitan centre in Australia and showed a significant reduction in preterm birth. We aimed to assess the cost-effectiveness of the BiOC service in reducing preterm births compared to Standard Care, from a health system perspective. Methods: Women who were carrying a First Nations baby and attending the Mater Mothers Public Hospital (Brisbane, QLD, Australia) were allocated to either BiOC or Standard Care service. Birth records were extracted from the hospital's routinely collected and prospectively entered database. The time horizon extended from first presentation in pregnancy up to six weeks after birth for mothers and 28 days for infants, or until discharged from hospital. All direct antenatal, birth, postnatal and neonatal costs were included. The proportion of preterm birth was calculated, and cost was estimated in 2019 Australian dollars. The incremental cost and proportion of preterm birth differences were adjusted using inverse probability of treatment weighting methods. Findings: Between Jan 1 2013, and Jun 30, 2019, 1816 mothers gave births to 1867 First Nations babies at the Mater Mothers Public Hospital. After exclusions, 1636 mother-baby pairs were included in the analyses: 840 in the Standard Care group and 796 in the BiOC service. Relative to Standard Care, the BiOC service was associated with a reduced proportion of preterm birth (−5.34%, [95% CI −8.69%, −1.98%]) and cost savings (-AU$4810, [95% CI −7519, −2101]) per mother-baby pair. The BiOC service was associated with better outcomes and cost less than Standard Care. Interpretation: The BiOC service offers a cost-effective alternative to Standard Care in reducing preterm birth for Australian First Nations families. The cost savings were driven by less interventions and procedures in birth and fewer neonatal admissions. Investing in comprehensive, community-led models of care improves outcomes at reduced cost. Funding: The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council ( APP1077036).
The Lancet Regional Health - Western Pacific, Volume 34, May 2023,