Screening to Improve Health in Very Preterm Infants in Europe (SHIPS) is a European research project about follow-up programmes for children born preterm. The project builds on the EPICE cohort which includes 6792 infants born before the 32nd week of gestation in 2011 and 2012 in 19 regions in 11 European countries. These children are now five years of age and their families will be invited to participate in the SHIPS project.
The SHIPS and EPICE projects study the use of evidence-based health care, follow-up screening and prevention programmes for very preterm infants. Evidence-based care means that clinicians and policy makers use the best scientific evidence to make decisions about medical procedures and health care services.
Very preterm infants face higher risks of health and developmental problems than children born at term. Follow-up programmes aim to identify any problems early in order to enable interventions and optimal management of health care needs. The SHIPS project seeks to create new knowledge about the effectiveness of these programmes and to use these results to develop guidelines for follow-up. The over-riding aim is to improve the health and quality of life of children born very preterm.
Information will be collected on the children’s health, healthcare use and quality of life as well as on the coverage, content and costs of the follow-up and screening programmes in the participating regions. This will be done as part of four studies which include a questionnaire filled in by parents, in-depth assessments of children’s development by clinical psychologists, personal interviews with selected parents about their experiences of follow-up, and structured questionnaires sent to directors of follow-up programmes in the participating regions.
The projects are carried out by a consortium including clinicians, researchers and parent representatives from the 11 participating countries.