Did You Know?

Early intervention delivers long-term benefits

November 23, 2020

The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program is a leading example of how intervening very early in life can bring many long-term benefits. This intensive home-visiting program focuses on young first-time mothers-to-be who are coping with socio-economic disadvantage. It begins in early pregnancy and continues until children reach age two, and can produce life-changing benefits. A recent paper — by researchers from the Children’s Health Policy Centre and published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal OPEN suggests some encouraging results. In a randomized controlled trial in BC, NFP led to reduced prenatal cannabis use, and in smokers it led to modest reductions in cigarette use. As a result, it is thought that NFP may hold promise for reducing some types of prenatal substance use in disadvantaged populations.


Nov. 20 marks Universal Children’s Day

November 16, 2020

This is a good time to remember that reducing inequality in society has been shown to reduce maltreatment of children. In particular, policies that redistribute wealth to ensure that more children have their basic needs met can contribute to reducing important problems such as child maltreatment. For more information on preventing and treating child maltreatment, see Vol. 3, No. 2 of the Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly.


Start with psychosocial treatments

November 9, 2020

When a child has depression, families should have easy access to effective psychosocial treatments such as Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy. Interpersonal Therapy can also be effective. Then, if medication is needed, fluoxetine is the first choice, given robust research evidence supporting its use. For more information, see Vol. 11, No. 4 of the Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly.


Let’s ban spanking

November 2, 2020

Spanking can harm children, for example, leading to physical injuries as well as emotional and behavioural problems. Spanking is also ineffective at changing children’s behaviour. Spanking and other forms of physical punishment should therefore not be used. For more information, see Vol. 9, No. 1 of the Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly.


Flexibility, maintaining connection and texting all helped sustain participation rates

October 26, 2020

How do you persuade busy young mothers to participate in a scientific trial that’s going to last more than two years? The BC Healthy Connections Project achieved this goal by using a number of strategies. These included:

  • Offering to perform research interviews on weekends and evenings.
  • Changing the type of contact to suit the needs of participants who were aged 14–24 years.
  • Making texting the preferred style of contact.
  • Personalizing the connection by showing appreciation and conveying genuine interest.

Many of the 739 participants said they enjoyed contributing to research and having their voices heard, through the survey data. They especially appreciated being able to feel that someone was listening and was interested in their lives.

The trial, which started in 2011, was designed as a scientific evaluation of the Nurse-Family Partnership, a landmark US program focusing on children born to girls and young women who are facing disadvantages such as low income. The program starts early — in pregnancy, before children are even born — and involves intensive home visits from public health nurses.

For more information on how the BC Healthy Connections Project maintained its impressive participation rates, see the team’s paper recently published in Trials.