Effectiveness of a 2-year post-natal nurse home-visiting programme when children are aged 5 years: Results from a natural experiment

Alyssa C. P. Sawyer*, Amy L. E. Kaim, Murthy N. Mittinity, Debra Jeffs, John W. Lynch, Michael G. Sawyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1091-1098
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number9
Early online date21 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sep 2019


  • early childhood
  • mother
  • nurse home visiting
  • programme evaluation

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