Effect of a Universal Postpartum Nurse Home Visiting Program on Child Maltreatment and Emergency Medical Care at 5 Years of Age: A Randomized Clinical Trial.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Importance: The Family Connects (FC) program, a community-wide nurse home visiting program for newborns, has been shown to provide benefits for children and families through the first 2 years of life. Potential longer-term outcomes for child well-being remain unknown. Objective: To determine the effect of randomization to FC on child maltreatment investigations and emergency medical care through 5 years of age. Design, Setting, and Participants: In this randomized clinical trial, families of all 4777 resident births in Durham County, North Carolina, from July 1, 2009, to December 31, 2010, were randomly assigned to receive the FC program or treatment as usual. Impact evaluation was on an intent-to-treat basis and focused on a subsample of 549 families randomly selected from the full population and included review of hospital and Child Protective Services (CPS) administrative records. Statistical analysis was conducted from November 6, 2020, to April 25, 2021. Interventions: The FC programs includes 1 to 3 nurse home visits beginning at the infant age of 3 weeks designed to identify family-specific needs, deliver education and intervention, and connect families with community resources matched to their needs. Ongoing program engagement with service professionals and an electronic resource directory facilitate effective family connections to the community. Main Outcomes and Measures: Two primary trial outcomes were CPS-recorded child maltreatment investigations and emergency medical care use based on hospital records. Results: Of the 4777 randomized families, 2327 were allocated to the intervention, and 2440 were allocated to services as usual. Among the children in the full study population, 2380 (49.8%) were female, 2397 (50.2%) were male, and 3359 (70.3%) were from racial/ethnic minority groups; of the 531 children included in the impact evaluation follow-up, 284 (53.5%) were female, 247 (46.5%) were male, and 390 (73.4%) were from racial/ethnic minority groups. Negative binomial models indicated that families assigned to FC had 39% fewer CPS investigations for suspected child maltreatment through 5 years of age (95% CI, -0.80 to 0.06; 90% CI, -0.73 to -0.01; control = 44 total investigations per 100 children and intervention = 27 total investigations per 100 children); intervention effects did not differ across subgroups. Families assigned to FC also had 33% less total child emergency medical care use (95% CI, -0.59 to -0.14; 90% CI, -0.55 to -0.18; control = 338 visits and overnight hospital stays per 100 children and intervention = 227 visits and overnight hospital stays per 100 children). Positive effects held across birth risk, child health insurance, child sex, single-parent status, and racial/ethnic groups. Effects were larger for nonminority families compared with minority families. Conclusions and Relevance: The findings of this randomized clinical trial suggest that, when implemented with high quality and broad reach, a brief postpartum nurse home visiting program can reduce population rates of child maltreatment and emergency medical care use in early childhood. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01406184.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Goodman, WB; Dodge, KA; Bai, Y; Murphy, RA; O'Donnell, K

Published Date

  • July 1, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 4 / 7

Start / End Page

  • e2116024 -

PubMed ID

  • 34232300

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8264647

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2574-3805

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.16024


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States