Reducing the Impact of Uncontrollable Stressful Life Events Through a Program of Nurse Home Visitation for New Parents
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The current study examined whether the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP), an intervention in which mothers received home visitation by registered nurses pre- and postnatally, reduced mothers' vulnerability to the effects of stressful life events several years after the program was completed. Data from a randomized trial of the NFP were examined for mothers (N = 324) who were generally low-income, young, and unmarried at the time of the birth of their first child. Structured interviews were done with mothers about 15 years after the program began. Results showed that experiencing uncontrollable stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one, led to fewer negative outcomes (fewer mental health problems, less binge drinking, and better parenting practices) among nurse-visited mothers than among mothers receiving no visitation. Furthermore, the program's effect on reducing vulnerability to the negative impact of life events was particularly evident among parents who were younger or had a lower sense of personal control at intake. These findings suggest that, in addition to preventing the occurrence of negative outcomes that were direct targets of the intervention, the NFP more generally enhanced mothers' ability to cope with future stressful life events.
KEY WORDS:nurse-visiting life events mental health parenting
This research was supported by grants from the Prevention Research Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health (Dr. Olds: R01-MH49381), the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, US Department of Health and Human Services (Dr. Olds: 96ASPE278A), the Children's Bureau, US Department of Health and Human Services (Dr. Eckenrode: 90-CA-1631) and a Senior Research Scientist Award (Dr. Olds: 1-K05-MH01382-01).
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