The objective of this study was to ascertain the knowledge base of Ontario maternity care providers (family physicians, obstetrician-gynaecologists, and midwives) regarding the future health risks of gestational hypertension and preeclampsia and the practices with respect to communication of these risks.
In 2004, all obstetricians (639) and midwives (249) in Ontario and a random sample of 600 Ontario family physicians were mailed a survey and a reminder. Non-responders were also sent a second, and in some cases, a third copy of the survey. The survey addressed areas of knowledge, reported practices, and both patient and interprofessional communication. Descriptive analysis was used for the responses.
The overall response rate was 42%. The majority of respondents were familiar with the long-term risks of gestational hypertension and preeclampsia. Although maternity care providers stated that they inform women with these conditions about their subsequent risks and recommend follow-up, only 36% usually inform the women's primary care providers about that subsequent risk. Only 58% of family physicians reported that they are usually informed by the maternity care providers about their patients who developed hypertension in pregnancy, compared with the 83% of maternity care providers who reported that they usually communicate this information to family physicians.
We have identified weaknesses in knowledge base and communication amongst Ontario maternity care providers that suggest that the identification and follow-up of women with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy is not occurring. These deficiencies would be amenable to directed educational activities, including reviews, presentations, and the development and implementation of guidelines.