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Study Detail

Easterbrooks, M. A., Jacobs, F. H., Bartlett, J. D., Goldberg, J., Contreras, M. M., Kotake, C., Raskin, M. & Chaudhuri, J. H. (2012). Initial findings from a randomized, controlled trial of Healthy Families Massachusetts: Early program impacts on young mothers' parenting. Report to the Pew Center on the States. Medford, MA: Tufts University.

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

Study Screening Details

Screening DecisionScreening Conclusion
Study Passes ScreensEligible for Review

Study Design Details

RatingDesignAttritionBaseline EquivalenceReassignmentConfounding Factors
ModerateRandomized controlled trialLowNot established on race/ethnicity or SES; outcomes not feasible to assess at baseline.NoneNone

Study Characteristics

Study Participants Adolescent women were randomly assigned to Healthy Families Massachusetts (HFM) or to a control group. Eighteen HFM sites were included in the evaluation. Within the study, 837 women were recruited and randomized (information based on correspondence with author). Sixty percent of women were assigned to HFM and 40 percent to the control group (T=517, C=320). Women recruited for the study were at least 16 years old, had not received HFM services in the past, were fluent in English or Spanish, and were able to provide informed consent. Women could be pregnant or parenting at enrollment. Participants were included within the impact study analysis sample if they signed a release for administrative data and participated in a half-hour telephone intake interview (687 overall, 420 within the treatment condition and 267 within the control condition). Among women in the analysis sample, 37 percent were white non-Hispanic, 32 percent were Hispanic, 20 percent were black non-Hispanic, and 12 percent were of another racial or ethnic background; most (88 percent) were born in the U.S. and preferred English (75 percent). At enrollment, women in the analysis sample were, on average, 18.6 years old.
Setting Eighteen HFM local program sites in Massachusetts.
Home Visiting Services Services included home visits with additional contact via phone and electronic media as needed. Home visits included goal-setting activities, group-based activities (including parenting education, peer support groups, social gatherings), and linkages and referrals to other resources. Home visits were offered weekly or biweekly during pregnancy, weekly for six months after the birth of the baby, and then in decreasing intensity based on family progress until the child was three years old.
Comparison Condition Control group members were assessed using a brief intake interview, and were offered referral information and/or resources based on identified needs, such as mental health services, referrals to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and referrals to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program (TANF). They also received monthly mailings from HFM administrators about child development.
Staff Characteristics and Training Home visitors were paraprofessionals who had experience working with families and knowledge of child development and family relationships and who demonstrated other professional skills (such as the ability to establish trusting relationships and a willingness to work with culturally diverse populations). Home visiting staff completed an initial six-day core training and, within their first year of employment, 10 additional topical trainings. Home visitors, supervisors, and program coordinators received weekly supervision (1–1.5 hours each week) from professionally trained staff.
Funding Source Not reported
Author Affiliation Authors are affiliated with Tufts University.

Study Registration Identifier: NCT01926223. Study registration was assessed by HomVEE beginning with the 2014 review.


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