Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 196–204 | Cite as

‘It Was Easier Because I Had Help’: Mothers’ Reflections on the Long-Term Impact of Sustained Nurse Home Visiting

  • Siggi Zapart
  • Jennifer Knight
  • Lynn Kemp



This qualitative descriptive study sought women’s views of the Maternal Early Childhood Sustained Home-visiting (MECSH) program they received from prior to birth to child-age 2-years. MECSH is a structured nurse home visiting program for a broad range of women of all ages (both primiparous and multiparous) who experienced stressors in pregnancy that could negatively impact on maternal and child outcomes. Women were asked for their perceptions of how and why the intervention worked for them, and the impact of the intervention on their subsequent parenting to child-age 5-years.


Thirty-six women participated in a semi-structured interview when their child commenced formal schooling at age 5-years. Recorded and transcribed data were analysed using qualitative content analysis.


Women described the importance of a positive relationship with the nurse, and nurses’ availability and responsiveness as critical to positive impacts. The interventions they recalled receiving were consistent with the comprehensive MECSH program model. The intervention impacted on women’s emotional well-being, confidence and help-seeking behaviour, and positively impacted on their parenting of their MECSH program child and their older and subsequent children. A small number of women reported feeling stressed and disconnected from services following program completion, however, most women continued to apply the learnings from the program.


Overall women reported positive impacts not just for themselves and their parenting abilities during the 2-year intervention program, but also described ongoing benefit to their subsequent parenting in the preschool period.


Nurse home visiting Mothers’ experiences Qualitative research At-risk mothers 



The study was funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (DP0770212) and National Health and Medical Research Council Postgraduate Scholarship (630755). We would like to acknowledge the contribution of the MECSH research team: Dr. Elizabeth Harris, A/Prof Catherine McMahon, Prof Graham Vimpani, Dr. Stephen Matthey, Prof Susan Dockett, Prof Robert Perry, Dr. Teresa Anderson and Prof Virginia Schmied. We also thank Sheryl Scharkie for her assistance with data collection, Fiona Byrne for assistance in the preparation of this paper for publication, and thank participating families.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Health Equity Training Research and Evaluation (CHETRE), A Unit of Population Health, South Western Sydney Local Health District, NSW HealthLiverpool HospitalLiverpool BCAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Health Equity Training Research and Evaluation (CHETRE), Part of the Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW AustraliaLiverpool HospitalLiverpool BCAustralia
  3. 3.Ingham Institute for Applied Medical ResearchLiverpoolAustralia

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