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Study Detail

Duggan, A., Caldera, D., Rodriguez, K., Burrell, L., Rohde, C., & Crowne, S. S. (2007). Impact of a statewide home visiting program to prevent child abuse. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31(8), 801–827.

Program(s) Reviewed: Healthy Families America (HFA)®

Study Screening Details

Screening DecisionScreening Conclusion
Study Passes ScreensEligible for Review

Study Design Details

RatingDesignSampleAttritionBaseline EquivalenceReassignmentConfounding Factors
HighRandomized controlled trialAlaska SampleLowEstablished on race and SES. Baseline equivalence on outcomes not feasible.NoneNone
Notes:

High rating applies to the following outcomes: child maltreatment, mother relinquished role, child hospitalized for ACSC, and child seen in the emergency room. A moderate rating applies to all other outcomes in the study’s Table 3, as well as the partner violence and substance use outcomes in the study’s Table 4, because of high attrition and equivalence on race and SES. Mental health outcomes in Table 4 receive a low rating because of high attrition and statistically significant baseline differences by race or SES.

Study Characteristics

Study Participants Between January 2000 and July 2001, 388 families who screened positive on a Healthy Families Alaska (HFAK) protocol for risk factors associated with poor health and social outcomes and received scores of 25 or higher on the Kempe’s Family Stress Checklist were recruited during pregnancy or at the time of birth (Duggan et al., 2007). Of these families, 364 consented to participate and were randomly assigned to the program group (n = 179) or the comparison group (n = 185). 325 families completed a baseline interview. The sample was 22% Alaska native, 55% Caucasian, 8% multiracial, and 15% other race. 58% of families were below poverty level, 58% of mothers had graduated from high school, and 73% had worked in the year prior to enrollment (Johns Hopkins University, 2005). The average age of mothers at baseline was 23.5 years. This study reports the second-year follow-up results of the HFA K evaluation, with a sample size of 138 program group primary caregivers and 140 comparison group primary caregivers. Most of the analyses are limited to families in which the biological mothers had custody of the index child at follow-up (249 families), with additional outcomes obtained from medical records (268 families). The outcomes included in this study were also described in an earlier report (Johns Hopkins University, 2005).
Setting This study included six Healthy Families Alaska sites, two in Anchorage and one each in Wasilla, Fairbanks, Juneau, and Kenai.
Home Visiting Services Families in the program group were assigned to receive visits monthly until their child’s birth and weekly thereafter. By design, families receive gradually less frequent visits as they reach critical milestones, ranging to quarterly visits at the highest level of functioning. Families were enrolled in the program until they functioned sufficiently to “graduate” or until their child turned 2. In practice, home visits were less frequent than intended, with only 4% of families receiving 75% or more of their designated frequency of visits and completing the full two years. Home visits were intended to emphasize preparing for child growth, development, and critical milestones; screening and referral for developmental delays; promoting a safe environment; positive parent-child interactions; establishing a “medical home” for the child; and supporting the family during crises. The program also emphasized the development of an Individual Family Support Plan (IFSP) or setting and monitoring progress toward individual family goals.
Comparison Condition Families assigned to the comparison condition received referrals to other community services.
Staff Characteristics and Training Guidelines suggest paraprofessional staff have a high school diploma at a minimum and that program managers have a master’s degree in a relevant field. In five of the six sites included in the evaluation, home visits were conducted by paraprofessionals. The remaining site combined nurse-visiting and paraprofessional-visiting models. Staff members were required to complete a one-week training geared directly to their role and a community-based training. Training for staff who conducted home visits or administered the Kempe Family Stress Checklist was conducted by certified instructors. All staff also had to complete 100 hours of training covering “child development, parent-child interaction, family dynamics, child safety, the dynamics of child abuse and neglect, crisis intervention and problem solving, communication skills, domestic violence, substance abuse, infant mental health and other related topics.” Continuous training varied by program. Training was initially administered by the Hawaii Family Stress Center and later by Great Kid’s Inc.
Funding Source Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and Alaska State Department of Health and Social Services.
Author Affiliation None of the study authors are developers of this program model.

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