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Replicating Evidence-Based Practices with Flexibility for Perinatal Home Visiting by Paraprofessionals.

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Introduction Strategies are needed to improve the efficacy of paraprofessional home visitors for pregnant women in the United States. This study evaluates the maternal and child outcomes when evidence-based practices (EBP) are replicated with flexibility, rather than fidelity to a manualized intervention. Methods Pregnant mothers (N = 203) in five clinics were recruited in the waiting rooms and randomized to standard clinic care as the control condition (n = 104) or standard care plus home visiting (n = 99). Home visitors (n = 9) were selected, trained in foundational skills common to EBP and four problem domains (weight control, breastfeeding, daily habits, and depression). Independent interviewers assessed targeted outcomes at birth (82%) and 6 months later (83%).


Home visitors, called Mentor Mothers [MM], made an average of 14.9 home visits or telephone contacts (SD = 9; total contacts = 1491) addressing maternal daily habits, breastfeeding, and depression. Intervention and control mothers were similar in weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), depression and social support at baseline and 6 months later. The percentage of low birth weight babies was similar; intervention infants' growth (weight/height Z score) tended to be significantly better compared to the control condition.


There are many explanations for the failure to find significant benefits: insufficient statistical power; the benefits of repeated assessments by warm, supportive peers to improve outcomes; or the failure of EBP and the need to maintain replication with fidelity. All study mothers had better outcomes than documented among comparable published samples of low-income, Latina and Korean-American mothers in Los Angeles, CA. registration NCT01687634.

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