Global Research Priorities for Understanding and Improving Respectful Care for Newborns: A Modified Delphi Study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Global health, science and practice








INTRODUCTION: As the respectful maternity care agenda expands, it is necessary to understand what the priorities are for improving respectful, dignified, and high-quality care for newborns. To catalyze and inform a developing research field, we undertook a prioritization exercise to identify global research questions. METHODS: We used a modified Delphi process to identify potential research priorities for understanding and addressing respectful care for newborns. Based on a literature review and expert discussions, we sent an open-ended questionnaire to participants in Round 1. The results were consolidated and used to create the Round 2 questionnaire, which asked participants to rank the preliminary list of research questions in 3 categories (descriptive, implementation, and measurement). Responses were weighted by rank and collated to generate a prioritized, consensus-based list of research questions. FINDINGS: Round 1 resulted in 70 research questions from 25 respondents, and 52 participants completed the Round 2 ranked survey. Most participants identified themselves as researchers (53.2%), program designers, implementers, or evaluators (56.5%). More than half of the participants reported working primarily in low-income countries (66%). Top descriptive questions were on understanding manifestations and definitions of disrespectful care among newborns and which perceptions and beliefs held by health workers affect the quality of care provided. Top implementation questions were around how to promote respectful care as a standard, challenges faced by health facilities, and identification of effective advocacy strategies. Top measurement questions were on quantitative and qualitative metrics and the impact of experiences on health outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: This study developed, for the first time, a prioritized list of research questions focusing exclusively on respectful care for newborns. The study highlighted the absence of agreed-upon terminology and tools needed to advance both theoretical and practical efforts. This list should guide researchers and other stakeholders in developing further research.


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