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Review Process

Literature Search

Each year, the HomVEE’s team conducts a broad search for literature on home visiting models serving pregnant women or families with children from birth to age 5. The team limited the search to research on models that used home visiting as the primary service delivery strategy and offered home visits to most or all participants. The search is also limited to research on home visiting models that aim to improve outcomes in at least one of eight domains: (1) maternal health; (2) child health; (3) child development and school readiness; (4) reductions in child maltreatment; (5) reductions in juvenile delinquency, family violence, or crime; (6) positive parenting practices; (7) family economic factors; and (8) linkages and referrals. HomVEE’s literature search includes two main activities:

  1. Database Searches. The HomVEE team searched on relevant key words in a range of research databases. Key words included terms related to the service delivery approach, target population, and outcome domains of interest. The initial search was limited to studies published since 1989; a more focused search on prioritized models included studies published since 1979 (see Prioritizing Models for Review). Through 2018, this search was updated annually to identify new literature released the previous year. Beginning with the 2019 review, HomVEE will search literature published through September of the previous year. It will also consider submissions to the call for studies of unpublished studies or studies published through December of the previous year.

    Keywords Used in the Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness Literature Review
    Category ID Search Term

    Search Restrictions


    Studies published in English only
    Studies published after 1989



    (Home AND visit*) or “family development” or (case AND manage*) or ((coordination OR referral*) AND (home AND visit*))

    Target Group


    Prenatal or perinatal or pregn* or “early childhood” or preschool or “pre-school” or infan* or newborn* or toddler* or parent* or “low-income” or “low income” or poor or poverty or “young child*”



    (child* and (abuse or neglect or maltreatment or health or injury or violence or attachment or immuniz* or “emergency department”)) or “infant mortality” or
    ((juvenile or adolescent) AND delinquen*) or
    (child and (cognit* or language or “social-emotional” or “socioemotional” or “socio-emotional” or socioemotional or physical or health) and development) or “school readiness” or “school achievement” or
    “child development” or “developmental delay” or (child AND behavior*) or (child AND disab*) or ((preterm or “pre-term” or premature) AND birth) or “low birth weight” or ((parent* or family or matern* or mother* or father* or patern*) and (employment or career or  stress or depress* or efficacy or “mental health” or health)) or ((subsequent or teen) AND (birth or pregnan*))or “home environment” or (parent* AND (skill* or abilit*)) or (reduc* AND (crime or “domestic violence” or “family violence” or “intimate partner violence”)) or ((community AND coordinat* OR co-ordinat*) or referral*) or “self sufficiency” or “self-sufficiency” or (smoking or tobacco) or (“armed forces” or military)

    Document Type


    (Study or evaluat* or research) and (effective* or efficac* or impact* or outcome*  or implement* or cost or replic*)

    Combine Terms


    S1 AND S2 AND S3 AND S4

    Databases Searched
    • Academic Search Premier
    • Campbell Collaboration
    • Child Care & Early Education Research Connections
    • CINAHL with Full Text
    • Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials
    • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
    • Cochrane Methodology Register
    • Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects
    • E-Journals
    • EconLit
    • Education Research Complete
    • ERIC
    • MedLine
    • New York Academy of Medicine’s Grey Literature Report
    • ProQuest Dissertations (prior to 2012, used Dissertation Abstracts)
    • PsycINFO
    • Scopus (prior to 2013, instead searched Social Sciences Citation Index, Social Work Abstracts, and Sociological Abstracts)
    • SocINDEX with Full Text
    • WorldCat

  2. Call for Studies. In the fall of each calendar year, HomVEE issues a call for studies and sends it to relevant listservs for dissemination. Submissions to the call for studies are added to HomVEE’s database of studies, along with studies obtained through the database searches. Each year, HomVEE screens all studies for relevance, prioritizes models for review, and reviews all eligible effectiveness studies of the prioritized models. HomVEE retains all submissions that are eligible for review but that are not about one of the prioritized models for consideration in subsequent review cycles.

In addition to these two activities, in the first year of the review, HomVEE also included the following:

  1. Review of Existing Literature Reviews and Meta-Analyses. In the first year, the HomVEE team checked initial search results against the bibliographies of recent literature reviews and meta-analyses of home visiting and added relevant missing citations to the search results. This check was conducted to ensure our search terms identified relevant studies; once the validity of the search terms was confirmed we did not repeat the process in subsequent years.

  2. Website Searches. The HomVEE team used a custom Google search engine to search more than 50 relevant government, university, research, and nonprofit websites for unpublished reports and papers. Results of this search, however, largely overlapped with the results of the first two activities and this activity was dropped in subsequent years.