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Universal Early Home Visiting: A Strategy for Reaching All Postpartum Women

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Objective The objective of this study is to consider the role of universal nurse home visiting in the postpartum period as a potential strategy to promote women’s postnatal health. This study was derived from a formative research project aimed at understanding the early implementation of the Illinois Family Connects (IFC) universal postpartum home visiting program as perceived by key informants. Methods Data from eighteen key informant (KI) interviews conducted between January and February 2018 and quantitative data extracted from reports from two IFC pilot counties were analyzed. Qualitative data were analyzed using Dedoose Version 8.0. Results Data suggest that universal postpartum nurse home visiting has appeal as a postpartum women’s health strategy. The data also suggest that the success of such a strategy likely depends on: the value women, families, and community stakeholders attach to the program; the appeal of its universality and the support for home visiting by nurses in particular; the processes adopted by the hospitals and agencies implementing the program; strategies for engaging women after leaving the hospital; and, the initial and ongoing marketing of the program, which ultimately may affect women’s willingness to participate. Conclusions for Practice Universal early postpartum home visiting is not a substitute for a woman’s visit with a medical provider; however, it should be viewed not only as an early childhood program but an important strategy for improving the delivery of postpartum care for women.

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This research was supported by funding from The Ounce of Prevention Fund. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of The Ounce of Prevention Fund. We wish to thank The Ounce of Prevention Fund and Illinois Family Connects lead agencies and their partners for their contributions to this research. In particular, we would like to thank Nick Wechsler, Laurie Roxworthy and Anthony Raden at The Ounce of Prevention Fund for their support.

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Correspondence to Kristine Zimmermann.

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Handler, A., Zimmermann, K., Dominik, B. et al. Universal Early Home Visiting: A Strategy for Reaching All Postpartum Women. Matern Child Health J 23, 1414–1423 (2019).

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