Enduring effects of nurse home visitation on maternal life course: a 3-year follow-up of a randomized trial

JAMA. 2000 Apr 19;283(15):1983-9. doi: 10.1001/jama.283.15.1983.


Context: A home visitation program using nurses to improve maternal and child outcomes had favorable results in a randomized trial with a primarily white, semirural population. Many of the short-term findings have been replicated with urban blacks, but whether the program will continue to demonstrate effectiveness after its conclusion is uncertain.

Objective: To determine the effectiveness of a prenatal and infancy home visitation program on the maternal life course of women in an urban environment 3 years after the program ended.

Design and setting: Three-year follow-up of a randomized controlled trial of women seen consecutively between June 1990 and August 1991 at an obstetrical clinic in Memphis, Tenn, who were enrolled in a visitation program for 2 years after the birth of their first child.

Participants: A cohort of 743 women who were primarily black, were pregnant for less than 29 weeks, had no previous live births, and had at least 2 sociodemographic risk factors (unmarried, <12 years of education, or unemployed).

Intervention: An average of 7 (range, 0-18) home visits during pregnancy and 26 (range, 0-71) from birth to the child's second birthday.

Main outcome measures: Rate of subsequent pregnancy, mean interval between first and second birth, and mean number of months of welfare use.

Results: Compared with the control group, women who received home visits by nurses had fewer subsequent pregnancies (1.15 vs 1.34; P=.03), fewer closely spaced subsequent pregnancies (0.22 vs 0.32; P=.03), longer intervals between the birth of the first and second child (30.25 vs 26.60 months; P=.004), and fewer months of using Aid to Families with Dependent Children (32.55 vs 36.19; P=.01) and food stamps (41.57 vs 45.04; P=.005). Compared with the effect of the program while the program was in operation, the effect after it ended was essentially equal for Aid to Families with Dependent Children, greater for food stamps, greater for rates of closely spaced subsequent pregnancies, and smaller for rates of subsequent pregnancy overall.

Conclusions: We found enduring effects of a home visitation program on the lives of black women living in an urban setting. While these results were smaller in magnitude than those achieved in a previous trial with white women living in a semirural setting, the direction of the effects was consistent across the 2 studies.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Home Care Services* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal-Child Health Centers
  • Maternal-Child Nursing* / statistics & numerical data
  • Models, Statistical
  • Pregnancy
  • Program Evaluation
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Tennessee
  • Urban Population