Open Access Open Badges Research article

In a maternity shared-care environment, what do we know about the paper hand-held and electronic health record: a systematic literature review

Glenda Hawley1*, Tina Janamian1, Claire Jackson1 and Shelley A Wilkinson123

Author Affiliations

1 APHCRI Centre of Research Excellence in Primary Health Care Microsystems, School of Medicine, Discipline of General Practice, University of Queensland, Herston 4029, Brisbane, Australia

2 Mater Research, Mothers & Babies Theme, Mater Health Services, South Brisbane 4101, Australia

3 Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Mater Health Services, South Brisbane 4101, Australia

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2014, 14:52  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-52

Published: 30 January 2014



The paper hand-held record (PHR) has been widely used as a tool to facilitate communication between health care providers and a pregnant woman. Since its inception in the 1950s, it has been described as a successful initiative, evolving to meet the needs of communities and their providers. Increasingly, the electronic health record (EHR) has dominated the healthcare arena and the maternity general practice shared-care arrangement seems to have adopted this initiative. A systematic review was conducted to determine perspectives of the PHR and the EHR with regards to data completeness; experiences of users and integration of care between women and health care providers.


A literature search was conducted that included papers from 1985 to 2012. Studies were chosen if they fulfilled the inclusion criteria, reporting on: data completeness; experiences of users and integration of care between women and health care providers. Papers were extracted by one reviewer in consultation with two reviewers with expertise in maternity e-health and independently assessed for quality.


A total of 43 papers were identified for the review, from an initial 6,816 potentially relevant publications. No papers were found that reported on data completeness in a maternity PHR or a maternity EHR, in a shared-care setting. Women described the PHR as important to their antenatal care and had a generally positive perception of using an EHR. Hospital clinicians reported generally positive experiences using a PHR, while both positive and negative impressions were found using an EHR. The few papers describing the use of the PHR and EHR by community clinicians were also divergent and inconclusive with regards to their experiences. In a general practice shared-care model, the PHR is a valuable tool for integration between the woman and the health care provider. While the EHR is an ideal initiative in the maternity setting, facilitating referrals and communication, there are issues of fragmentation and continued paper use.


There was a surprising gap in knowledge surrounding data completeness on maternity PHRs or EHRs. There is also a paucity of available impressions from community clinicians using both forms of the records.

Paper hand-held record; Electronic health record; General practitioner; Maternity; Antenatal; Shared-care; Hospital clinician