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Background: Caesarean sections often have no urgent indication and are electively planned. Research showed that elective caesarean section should not be performed until 39 + (0–6) weeks of gestation to ensure best neonatal and maternal health if there are no contraindications. This was recommended by various guidelines published in the last two decades. With this systematic review, we are looking for implementation strategies trying to implement these recommendations to reduce elective caesarean section before 39 + (0–6) weeks of gestation. Methods: We performed a systematic literature search in MEDLINE, EMBASE, CENTRAL, and CINAHL on 3rd of March 2021. We included studies that assessed implementation strategies aiming to postpone elective caesarean section to ≥ 39 + (0–6) weeks of gestation. There were no restrictions regarding the type of implementation strategy or reasons for elective caesarean section. Our primary outcome was the rate of elective caesarean sections before 39 + (0–6) weeks of gestation. We used the ROBINS-I Tool for the assessment of risk of bias. We did a narrative analysis of the results. Results: We included 10 studies, of which were 2 interrupted time series and 8 before-after studies, covering 205,954 elective caesarean births. All studies included various types of implementation strategies. All implementation strategies showed success in decreasing the rate of elective caesarean sections performed < 39 + (0–6) weeks of gestation. Risk difference differed from − 7 (95% CI − 8; − 7) to − 45 (95% CI − 51; − 31). Three studies reported the rate of neonatal intensive care unit admission and showed little reduction. Conclusion: This systematic review shows that all presented implementation strategies to reduce elective caesarean section before 39 + (0–6) weeks of gestation are effective. Reduction rates differ widely and it remains unclear which strategy is most successful. Strategies used locally in one hospital seem a little more effective. Included studies are either before-after studies (8) or interrupted time series (2) and the overall quality of the evidence is rather low. However, most of the studies identified specific barriers in the implementation process. For planning an implementation strategy to reduce elective caesarean section before 39 + (0–6) weeks of gestation, it is necessary to consider specific barriers and facilitators and take all obstetric personal into account. Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42017078231
Prediger, B., Heu-Parvaresch, A., Polus, S., Bühn, S., Neugebauer, E. A. M., & Dawid, P. (2021). A systematic review on the effectiveness of implementation strategies to postpone elective caesarean sections to ≥ 39 + (0–6) weeks of gestation. Systematic Reviews, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-021-01718-1