Prenatal and infancy home visiting by nurses: from randomized trials to community replication

Prev Sci. 2002 Sep;3(3):153-72. doi: 10.1023/a:1019990432161.


This paper summarizes a 25-year program of research that has attempted to improve the early health and development of low-income mothers and children and their future life trajectories with prenatal and infancy home visiting by nurses. The program has been tested in two separate large-scale randomized controlled trials with different populations living in different contexts. The program has been successful in improving parental care of the child as reflected in fewer injuries and ingestions that may be associated with child abuse and neglect; and maternal life-course, reflected in fewer subsequent pregnancies, greater work force participation, and reduced use of public assistance and food stamps. In the first trial, the program also produced long-term effects on the number of arrests, convictions, emergent substance use, and promiscuous sexual activity of 15-year-old children whose nurse-visited mothers were low-income and unmarried when they registered in the study during pregnancy. Since 1996, the program has been offered for public investment outside of research contexts. Careful attention has been given to ensuring that the program is replicated with fidelity to the model tested in the scientifically controlled studies by working with community leaders to ensure that organization and community contexts are favorable for the program; by providing the nurses with excellent training and technical assistance and detailed visit-by-visit guidelines; and by providing organizations with a web-based clinical information system that creates a basis for monitoring program performance and continuous quality improvement.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Health Services / standards*
  • Child Welfare
  • Clinical Nursing Research*
  • Community Health Nursing*
  • Female
  • Home Care Services / standards*
  • House Calls
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Health Services / standards*
  • Pregnancy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic