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JAMA. 2000 Sep 20;284(11):1385-91.

Preventing child abuse and neglect with a program of nurse home visitation: the limiting effects of domestic violence.

Author information

1
Family Life Development Center, MVR Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA. jje1@cornell.edu

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Home visitation to families with young children has been promoted as an effective way to prevent child maltreatment, but few studies have examined the conditions under which such programs meet this goal.

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate whether the presence of domestic violence limits the effects of nurse home visitation interventions in reducing substantiated reports of child abuse and neglect.

DESIGN:

Fifteen-year follow-up study of a randomized trial.

SETTING:

Semirural community in upstate New York.

PARTICIPANTS:

Of 400 socially disadvantaged pregnant women with no previous live births enrolled consecutively between April 1978 and September 1980, 324 mothers and their children participated in the follow-up study.

INTERVENTIONS:

Families were randomly assigned to receive routine perinatal care (control group; n = 184 participated in follow-up), routine care plus nurse home visits during pregnancy only (n = 100), or routine care plus nurse home visits during pregnancy and through the child's second birthday (n = 116).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Number of substantiated reports over the entire 15-year period involving the study child as subject regardless of the identity of the perpetrator or involving the mother as perpetrator regardless of the identity of the child abstracted from state records and analyzed by treatment group and level of domestic violence in the home as measured by the Conflict Tactics Scale.

RESULTS:

Families receiving home visitation during pregnancy and infancy had significantly fewer child maltreatment reports involving the mother as perpetrator (P =. 01) or the study child as subject (P =.04) than families not receiving home visitation. The number of maltreatment reports for mothers who received home visitation during pregnancy only was not different from the control group. For mothers who received visits through the child's second birthday, the treatment effect decreased as the level of domestic violence increased. Of women who reported 28 or fewer incidents of domestic violence (79% of sample), home-visited mothers had significantly fewer child maltreatment reports during the 15-year period than mothers not receiving the longer-term intervention (P =.01). However, this intervention did not significantly reduce child maltreatment among mothers reporting more than 28 incidents of domestic violence (21% of sample).

CONCLUSIONS:

The presence of domestic violence may limit the effectiveness of interventions to reduce incidence of child abuse and neglect. JAMA. 2000;284:1385-1391.

PMID:
10989400
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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