Global research priorities for COVID-19 in maternal, reproductive and child health: Results of an international survey

Melanie Etti*, Jackeline Alger, Sofia P. Salas, Robin Saggers, Tanusha Ramdin, Margit Endler, Kristina Gemzell-Danielsson, Tobias Alfven, Yusuf Ahmed, Allison Callejas, Deborah Eskenazi, Asma Khalil, Kirsty Le Doare

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background The World Health Organization's "Coordinated Global Research Roadmap: 2019 Novel Coronavirus"outlined the need for research that focuses on the impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women and children. More than one year after the first reported case significant knowledge gaps remain, highlighting the need for a coordinated approach. To address this need, the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Working Group (MNCH WG) of the COVID- 19 Clinical Research Coalition conducted an international survey to identify global research priorities for COVID-19 in maternal, reproductive and child health. Method This project was undertaken using a modified Delphi method. An electronic questionnaire was disseminated to clinicians and researchers in three different languages (English, French and Spanish) via MNCH WG affiliated networks. Respondents were asked to select the five most urgent research priorities among a list of 17 identified by the MNCH WG. Analysis of questionnaire data was undertaken to identify key similarities and differences among respondents according to questionnaire language, location and specialty. Following elimination of the seven lowest ranking priorities, the questionnaire was recirculated to the original pool of respondents. Thematic analysis of final questionnaire data was undertaken by the MNCH WG from which four priority research themes emerged. Results Questionnaire 1 was completed by 225 respondents from 29 countries. Questionnaire 2 was returned by 49 respondents. The four priority research themes which emerged from the analysis were 1) access to healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic, 2) the direct and 3) indirect effects of COVID-19 on pregnant and breastfeeding women and children and 4) the transmission of COVID-19 and protection from infection. Conclusion The results of these questionnaires indicated a high level of concordance among continents and specialties regarding priority research themes. This prioritized list of research uncertainties, developed to specifically highlight the most urgent clinical needs as perceived by healthcare professionals and researchers, could help funding organizations and researchers to answer the most pressing questions for clinicians and public health professionals during the pandemic. It is hoped that these identified priority research themes can help focus the discussion regarding the allocation of limited resources to enhance COVID-19 research in MNCH globally.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0257516
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9 September
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes

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© 2021 Etti et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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