Engagement and Retention of Families in Universal Australian Nurse-Home-Visiting Services: A Mixed-Methods Study

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023 Jul 28;20(15):6472. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20156472.


Family support is offered to Australian parents of young children using a mix of targeted and universal child and family health services including nurse-home-visiting programmes. These rely on the voluntary engagement of families. In this study, the capacity to engage and retain families, including those at risk of becoming involved with child protection services, was examined. The broad objective was to identify nursing practices used at the interface of health and child protection services and to articulate those practices. Child and Family Health Nurses (CFHN) (n = 129) participated in a pragmatic, multilevel mixed-methods study. A questionnaire was used to identify nursing practices in the first phase of this study followed by focus groups in the second phase to describe these practices in more detail. Three practice themes were identified and described: enrolment, retention and conclusion of the nurse-family relationship. Universal child and family health services feature flexible, advanced, and multidimensional family support services including child protection practices. This paper focuses on practices employed by nurses to engage and retain families where child protection concerns are identified.

Keywords: child and family health services; child and maternal health; child protection; engagement; families with complex needs; multilevel mixed methods; nurse home visiting; nurse–family relationship; nursing practice; retention; universal health services.

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.