Program

Jan 16, 2013

OVERVIEW

The Community Mothers’ Program provided monthly visits to new mothers during the
first year of the child’s life and aimed to increase the mother’s
self-confidence by having a nonprofessional mother from the community visit in
the home and share her own experiences raising a child. This program was found
to have impacts on child’s immunizations, child’s nutrition, number of days in
the hospital for children who spent time in the hospital, mother reading to the
child, mother’s fatigue, mother feeling miserable, and mother staying in.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target Population: First-time,
low-income mothers in an urban setting in Ireland

In the Community Mothers’ Program, the new mother receives the usual support
from a public health nurse, but receives monthly visits at home from a mother in
the community for a year. This program recommends that the home visitor share
her own experiences with the mother, rather than giving advice or teaching her.
In doing so, the mother will ideally feel empowered and equal to the home
visitor.

The first-time mothers were encouraged to use cartoons promoting educational
development, language development, and cognitive development. Education involved
reading to the child early. Language was developed through nursery rhymes, and
cognitive development was encouraged through play.

EVALUATIONS OF PROGRAM

Johnson, Z., Howell,
F., & Molloy, B. (1993). Community mothers’ programme: Randomised controlled
trial of non-professional intervention in parenting. British Medical Journal,
306
(6890), 1449-1452.

Evaluated Population: First-time
mothers (N=232) and their infants in a low-resource area of Dublin, Ireland,
were evaluated. About half of the mothers were single and half married. Most of
the mothers, three out of every four, were unemployed, and about one out of
every three fathers were unemployed.

Approach:
Mother and infant
pairs (N=262) were randomly assigned to the intervention group (n=141) or
control group (n=121). Thirty were not included in the posttest because data
were not available. Measures collected were self esteem, food intake,
immunizations, hospitalizations, formula use, feeding milk before 26 weeks of
the child’s age, and number of accidents.

Self-esteem was assessed through physical symptoms, such as being tired, having
headaches, being miserable, and staying in. Food intake was a 24-hour
mother-report recall of the consumption of animal protein, non-animal protein,
whole foods, vegetables, fruit, milk, and energy.

Results: After
one year, the program had a positive, significant impact on three of the four
self-esteem measures: fatigue, feeling miserable, and staying in. There was no
significant impact on mother’s headaches.

The intervention group had a significantly higher percentage of mothers
reporting that they read to their child, compared with the control group mothers
(98 versus 54 percent). Also, mothers who read to their children in the
intervention group were more likely to report reading to them every day,
compared with mothers who read to their children in the control group (56 versus
26 percent).

Children in the intervention group had a higher percentage of up-to-date
immunizations by their first birthday compared with the control group (85 versus
65 percent). Of the children who spent any time in the hospital (number of days
in the hospital > 0), the children in the intervention group had a mean number
of days twice that of the control group (14 days and seven days, respectively).
Mothers in the intervention group had infants on formula longer, on average,
compared with the control group (38.1 weeks versus 28 weeks, respectively).
Fewer mothers in the intervention group gave their children cow’s milk before 26
weeks, compared with the control group (19 versus 47 percent), a positive
impact. For all the foods in the dietary recall, the program had a significant
impact, favoring the intervention group. The intervention group had higher
percentages of individuals with appropriate consumption of the food types, not
eating too much or too little. The significant impacts were found for both the
children’s consumption and mothers’.

No significant impacts were found for hospital admission, mean number of days
spent in the hospital (all children), or number of accidents.

SOURCES FOR MORE
INFORMATION

References:

Johnson, Z., Howell,
F., & Molloy, B. (1993). Community mothers’ programme: Randomised controlled
trial of non-professional intervention in parenting. British Medical Journal,
306
(6890), 1449-1452.

KEYWORDS: Infants (0-12 months), Males and Females (co-ed), Urban, Home-based,
Community-based, Parent Training/Education, Home Visitation, Nutrition, Health
Status/Conditions.

Program information last updated 11/1/2010.