Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker (MIHOW)®

Model effectiveness research report last updated: 2018

Model overview

Theoretical approach

The Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker (MIHOW) model is based on systems theory, which views human behavior as the collective impact of multiple interrelated systems. To understand and assist individual program participants, MIHOW considers how participants are affected by families, organizations, societies, and other systems in which the participants are involved.

MIHOW uses home visitors (called outreach workers) from the local community. The outreach workers assess all the systems at work in individuals’ lives and then strive to strengthen those systems to help participants meet their goals. The outreach worker helps to bolster the individual system, advocates for participants within larger systems, and supports participants’ efforts to positively affect the systems in which they are involved. By training mothers within a community to serve as outreach workers, MIHOW aims to generate broader system change in the community.

It is community-based, has a community-development focus, and is strengths-based. The model emphasizes that outreach workers and program participants are equal members of the community and have mutual investment in one another. The model links the parenting experience of community members with the university that developed the model and community partners.

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Model services

The core components of MIHOW are (1) home visits, (2) case management and advocacy, (3) parent education, (4) role modeling for positive parent-child interaction, (5) health and developmental screening, (6) information and referral, and (7) peer support groups.

The outreach workers listen to parents’ concerns; educate parents about nutrition, health, and children’s development; model positive parenting practices; and provide links to medical and social services. MIHOW is flexible and tailored to the needs of the sponsoring agency and community.

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Intended population

MIHOW targets underserved communities, but does not have eligibility requirements for participants. The intervention primarily serves low-income, stressed, and isolated families with children from birth to age 3—families with the highest risk for poor birth outcomes.

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Where to find out more

Tonya Elkins
MIHOW Director
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing
1400 18th Ave. South, A-1
Nashville, TN 37212
Phone: (615) 343-4513
Fax: (615) 343-0325

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