External Validation Study of First Trimester Obstetric Prediction Models (Expect Study I): Research Protocol and Population Characteristics

Linda Jacqueline Elisabeth Meertens*, Hubertina C. J. Scheepers, Raymond G. De Vries, Carmen D. Dirksen, Irene Korstjens, Antonius L. M. Mulder, Marianne J. Nieuwenhuijze, Jan G. Nijhuis, Marc E. A. Spaanderman, Luc J. M. Smits

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: A number of first-trimester prediction models addressing important obstetric outcomes have been published. However, most models have not been externally validated. External validation is essential before implementing a prediction model in clinical practice.

Objective: The objective of this paper is to describe the design of a study to externally validate existing first trimester obstetric prediction models, based upon maternal characteristics and standard measurements (eg,blood pressure), for the risk of pre-eclampsia (PE), gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), spontaneous preterm birth (PTB), small-for-gestational-age (SGA) infants, and large-for-gestational-age (LGA) infants among Dutch pregnant women (Expect Study I). The results of a pilot study on the feasibility and acceptability of the recruitment process and the comprehensibility of the Pregnancy Questionnaire 1 are also reported.

Methods: A multicenter prospective cohort study was performed in The Netherlands between July 1, 2013 and December 31, 2015. First trimester obstetric prediction models were systematically selected from the literature. Predictor variables were measured by the Web-based Pregnancy Questionnaire 1 and pregnancy outcomes were established using the Postpartum Questionnaire 1 and medical records. Information about maternal health-related quality of life, costs, and satisfaction with Dutch obstetric care was collected from a subsample of women. A pilot study was carried out before the official start of inclusion. External validity of the models will be evaluated by assessing discrimination and calibration.

Results: Based on the pilot study, minor improvements were made to the recruitment process and online Pregnancy Questionnaire 1. The validation cohort consists of 2614 women. Data analysis of the external validation study is in progress.

Conclusions: This study will offer insight into the generalizability of existing, non-invasive first trimester prediction models for various obstetric outcomes in a Dutch obstetric population. An impact study for the evaluation of the best obstetric prediction models in the Dutch setting with respect to their effect on clinical outcomes, costs, and quality of life-Expect Study II-is being planned.

Original languageEnglish
Article number203
Number of pages11
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • external validation
  • first trimester
  • prediction models
  • pregnancy
  • risk assessment
  • RISK


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