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Maternal Early Childhood Sustained Home-Visiting Program (MECSH)

Meets HHS criteria for an evidenced based model

In Brief

Last Updated

May 2013


Evidence of Model Effectiveness

This model meets the criteria established by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for an “evidence-based early childhood home visiting service delivery model” for the general population, but does not meet the criteria for tribal populations.


Model Description

Based in Australia, the Maternal Early Childhood Sustained Home-Visiting (MECSH) program is designed to enhance maternal and child outcomes by providing antepartum services in addition to the traditional postpartum care women receive through Australia’s universal system for maternal, child, and family health services. MECSH targets disadvantaged, pregnant women at risk for adverse maternal and/or child health and development outcomes. Registered nurses conduct a minimum of 25 60- to 90-minute home visits, from pregnancy and until the child’s second birthday. During the visits, nurses focus on parent education, maternal health and well-being, family relationships, goal setting, and other issues such as housing and finances. Also available are parenting groups, activities to link families to the community, and referrals to other specialized care (such as dieticians and drug and alcohol counselors). For more information, please read the Model Overview.


Extent of Evidence

Results of Research and ReviewNumber of Studies
Released from 1979 to 2011 7
Eligible for review 2
     Rated high 0
     Rated moderate 2
     Rated low 0
     Additional sources1 0

1Additional sources overlap with another study and are not rated.

For more information, see the study database. For more information on the criteria used to determine the study ratings, please read Producing Study Ratings.


Summary of Findings

Outcomes Primary Outcome Measures Secondary Outcome Measures
Child Development and School Readiness Not measured Not measured
Child Health

Favorable: 0
No effect: 3
Unfavorable or ambiguous: 0

Favorable: 2
No effect: 6
Unfavorable or ambiguous: 0

Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Not measured Not measured
Linkages and Referrals Not measured Not measured
Maternal Health

Favorable: 0
No effect: 6
Unfavorable or ambiguous: 0

Favorable: 1
No effect: 9
Unfavorable or ambiguous: 0

Positive Parenting Practices

Favorable: 1
No effect: 5
Unfavorable or ambiguous: 0

Favorable: 0
No effect: 1
Unfavorable or ambiguous: 0

Reductions in Child Maltreatment Not measured Not measured
Reductions in Juvenile Delinquency, Family Violence, and Crime Not measured Not measured
Table Help

This table summarizes the effects found in research across outcome domains. Outcomes with a favorable impact are listed in green and outcomes with an unfavorable or ambiguous impact are listed in red. Outcomes that have high attrition or lack of baseline equivalence are excluded from this report.

Favorable Impact: A statistically significant impact on an outcome measure in a direction that is beneficial for children and parents. This impact could statistically be positive or negative, and is determined “favorable” based on the end result. For example, a favorable impact could be an increase in children’s vocabulary or daily reading to children by parents, or a reduction in harsh parenting practices or maternal depression.

Unfavorable or Ambiguous Impact: A statistically significant impact on an outcome measure in a direction that may indicate potential harm to children and/or parents. This impact could statistically be positive or negative, and is determined “unfavorable or ambiguous” based on the end result. NOTE: While some outcomes are clearly unfavorable, for other outcomes it is not as clear which direction is desirable. For example, an increase in children’s behavior problems is clearly unfavorable, while an increase in number of days mothers are hospitalized is more ambiguous. This may be viewed as an unfavorable impact because it indicates that mothers have more health problems, but it could also indicate that mothers have increased access to needed health care due to their participation in a home visiting program.

Primary Outcome Measure: For the HomVEE review, an outcome measured through direct observation, direct assessment, or administrative data; or self-reported data collected using a standardized (normed) instrument.

Secondary Outcome Measure: For the HomVEE review, most self-reported data, excluding self-reports based on a standardized (normed) instrument.

Please read Describing Effects for more information on these categories. Only results from studies that meet the standards for the high or moderate ratings are included above.


Criteria Established by the Department of Health and Human Services

Information Based on Comprehensive Review of All High- and Moderate-Impact Studies for this Model
High- or moderate-quality impact study? Yes
Across high- or moderate-quality studies, favorable impacts in…
   at least two outcome domains within one sample
   the same domain for at least two non-overlapping samples?
Favorable impacts on full sample? Yes
Any favorable impacts on outcome measures sustained at least 12 months after model enrollment?1 Yes
One or more favorable, statistically significant impact reported in a peer-reviewed journal?1 Yes

1This information is reported for all models, but the requirements for sustained findings and inclusion in a peer-reviewed journal only apply to models for which all findings are from randomized controlled trials.

Please read the HHS Criteria for Evidence-Based Models for more information.