Five-year Randomized Control Trial of the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) Program set to begin in British Columbia

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Nurse-Family Partnership  is a primary prevention program that was developed by Dr. David Olds in the United States with the goal of helping vulnerable young first-time mothers and their children.

The program involves public health nurses  visiting mothers in their homes, providing intensive supports starting in pregnancy and continuing until children reach their second birthday. Studies in the US have shown that NFP significantly reduces child maltreatment and child behaviour problems, while also improving children’s early learning and mother’s economic self-sufficiency. Economic studies have also shown that the program pays for itself over the long-term.

The government of  British Columbia is introducing the Nurse-Family Partnership program as part of its Healthy Families BC initiative. However, because the program has never been evaluated in the Canadian context, a five year randomized control trial will be an important first step. Compared with Canada, the United States has greater socioeconomic inequalities and fewer baseline health and social services. It’s possible that the program may not be more effective than existing services.

Using randomized-controlled trial methods, the program will be evaluated in comparison with existing perinatal services in BC regarding outcomes across three fundamental domains: 1) pregnancy and birth; 2) child health and development; and 3) maternal health and life course. Tobacco and alcohol use during pregnancy will be one of the key outcome measures. (Reductions in prenatal tobacco use have been reported in the US context but prenatal alcohol use is still an unknown.

Some of the project collaborators include: Simon Fraser University, McMaster University, BC Ministry of Health and BC Ministry of Children and Family Development. Learn more about the initiative here.

For more on home visiting programs, see earlier posts: