Reducing the impact of uncontrollable stressful life events through a program of nurse home visitation for new parents

Prev Sci. 2005 Dec;6(4):269-74. doi: 10.1007/s11121-005-0010-5.


The current study examined whether the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP), an intervention in which mothers received home visitation by registered nurses pre- and postnatally, reduced mothers' vulnerability to the effects of stressful life events several years after the program was completed. Data from a randomized trial of the NFP were examined for mothers (N = 324) who were generally low-income, young, and unmarried at the time of the birth of their first child. Structured interviews were done with mothers about 15 years after the program began. Results showed that experiencing uncontrollable stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one, led to fewer negative outcomes (fewer mental health problems, less binge drinking, and better parenting practices) among nurse-visited mothers than among mothers receiving no visitation. Furthermore, the program's effect on reducing vulnerability to the negative impact of life events was particularly evident among parents who were younger or had a lower sense of personal control at intake. These findings suggest that, in addition to preventing the occurrence of negative outcomes that were direct targets of the intervention, the NFP more generally enhanced mothers' ability to cope with future stressful life events.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Community Health Nursing*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant Care / psychology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Life Change Events*
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Postnatal Care / psychology*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*