Tara Flemington

MPhil candidate

Intensity of intervention, strength of maternal engagement and relationship to outcomes in a nurse-led home visiting program for new parents: a pilot study

Supervisors: Associate Professor Jenny Fraser and Associate Professor Donna Waters


Nurse home visiting has existed in various forms for some time as a method of monitoring and surveying maternal and child health. More recently, it has risen to prominence as having the potential to reduce the incidence of child abuse and neglect. Visitors have the potential to prevent abuse from occurring and the ability to play a role in the early detection of cases that may have otherwise gone unreported.

There have been very few explorations into engagement in nurse-led home visiting programs, and no Australian research. The proposal herein aims to explore this neglected field by investigating factors predicting engagement and relationship to maternal outcomes in an intensive, nurse-led home visiting program in South East Queensland. Using a theoretical basis of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory and McCurdy and Daro’s theory of parental engagement in home visiting programs, the study will explore engagement in the Australian context.

A literature review examining home visiting programs, in particular programs with the aim of preventing child abuse, and with a focus on engagement, has been completed. Ethics approval has been granted to conduct a chart audit of participants of a prior randomised controlled trial that took place in 2006. A secondary analysis of this high quality data set will attempt to determine engagement in the program from two perspectives:

  1. Do maternal factors influence engagement in the program?
  2. Does the quality of engagement influence outcomes such as child abuse potential and characteristics of the home environment?

It is anticipated that the results will provide a significant contribution to the design and evaluation of home visiting programs in Australia and the world.