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Study Detail

Jacobs, F., Easterbrooks, A., & Mistry, J. (2015). The Massachusetts Healthy Families evaluation-2 (MHFE-2): A randomized, controlled trial of a statewide home visiting program for young parents: Final report to the Children's Trust of Massachusetts. Report to the Children’s Trust of Massachusetts. Medford, MA: Tufts Interdisciplinary Evaluation Research.

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 trialLowEstablished on race and ethnicity; not established on SES or baseline measures of the outcomes; some outcomes not feasible to assess at baseline.NoneNone

Four outcomes from this report were also reported in Jacobs et al. (2015), and those findings are reported elsewhere on the website. Those outcomes include: (1) at least one substantiated report of maltreatment, through 27 months post-enrollment; (2) mother finished one year of college, two years post-enrollment; (3) mother finished high school/GED, two years post-enrollment; and (4) repeat birth (self-report), two years post-enrollment. There were slight differences in the odds ratios reported for the four outcomes between this report and the journal article, but in both cases the statistical significance and favorability of the outcomes were the same within both reports. Information on attrition and baseline equivalence was based on correspondence with the author.

Study Characteristics

Study Participants Among the 837 women who were recruited for the study, 517 were randomly assigned to receive home visiting services and 320 were randomly assigned to a control group that received referral and information only. Eligible participants were female, first-time parents between the ages of 16 and 20 and spoke either English or Spanish. The ethnicity of the full sample was as follows: 37 percent white non-Hispanic, 19 percent black non-Hispanic, 36 percent Hispanic, and 8 percent of other race/ethnicities. On average, mothers were 18.8 years old upon the birth of the child. Eighteen percent received cash assistance and 17 percent received food assistance prior to enrollment in the study.
Setting The study took place within 18 sites in Massachusetts.
Home Visiting Services Home visiting services were offered from pregnancy through the child's third birthday. On average, mothers received 24 home visits over 14.7 months. In addition to home visiting, the program included goal-setting and group-based activities and linkages and referrals to additional resources.
Comparison Condition Mothers in the comparison condition received information about child development and were referred to other services but they did not receive home visits.
Staff Characteristics and Training Staff characteristics and training were not described in the current study; however, they were described in the Initial Findings Report (Easterbrooks et al., 2012). Home visitors were paraprofessionals with demonstrated skills in working with families and building trusting relationships. They were required to complete a six-day training at the time of their hire and 10 additional topic trainings within their first year. They also participated in 1 to 1.5 hours of supervision activities with their supervisors each week.
Funding Source The evaluation was funded by the Children's Trust of Massachusetts.
Author Affiliation The authors are affiliated with Tufts Interdisciplinary Evaluation Research, the evaluation partner of Massachusetts Healthy Families.

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


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