Aim: To evaluate the effect of a 2-year post-natal nurse home visiting (NHV) programme delivered in routine clinical practice to socially disadvantaged mothers on children's development at 5 years.
Methods: The study was a natural experiment resulting from progressive rollout of NHV (2008–2012). Children of three groups of mothers, all eligible for NHV, were compared: (i) mothers receiving NHV in a metropolitan region (n = 197); (ii) mothers in a rural region prior to NHV being available (n = 94); and (iii) mothers receiving NHV in the rural region after it became available (n = 84). Outcomes were evaluated using the Child Behaviour Checklist, Child–Parent Relationships Scale, Behaviour Inventory of Executive Functioning and Australian Early Development Index.
Results: Analyses were conducted using augmented inverse probability weighting accounting for differences in the groups' baseline characteristics. While some differences were observed in the range of 8–12% between the intervention and comparison groups (albeit with wide confidence intervals, e.g. 31% less likely to 4% more likely to be experiencing poor outcomes). For the majority of outcomes, however, there were no differences observed between the intervention and comparison groups.
Conclusions: Post-natal NHV provided as a part of routine service delivery did not improve children's outcomes at 5 years. It may be that in the Australian context a NHV intervention, as offered in this study, does not provide additional benefits over standard care.
- early childhood
- nurse home visiting
- programme evaluation