There is value in making lots of contact

December 14, 2020

In conducting a scientific evaluation of a program designed to help young first-time mothers, a research team from the BC Healthy Connections Project went to extra effort to make connections. The team was prepared to contact each participant five or more times to schedule interviews. This ‘extra effort’ was deemed important in reaching participants who were often struggling with issues such as insecure housing and mental or physical health challenges. The scientific evaluation, which started in 2011, looked at 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. In Canada and elsewhere, policy-makers and practitioners have traditionally struggled to reach, engage and maintain connections with populations who are facing socioeconomic disadvantage. The BC Healthy Connections Project team has provided a detailed case example, offering strategies for how to make better connections, that last. The team hopes that their paper, which can be seen in the journal, Trials, will inform a shift for researchers, policy-makers and practitioners alike—from seeing disadvantaged populations as “hard-to-reach” to viewing them as “need-to-reach.”