Young moms eager to help

October 20, 2014

nurse-family partnershipA cheerful young woman with a BA in psychology, Lori Esler* is a scientific interviewer who works with SFU’s Children’s Health Policy Centre on Vancouver Island.

Her job? To interview participants in the BC Healthy Connections Project, an evaluation of the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program that’s taking place over the next five years.

Developed in the US but never before tested in Canada, the Nurse-family Partnership provides intensive public health nursing visits to disadvantaged young women — who are preparing to parent for the first time — starting in pregnancy.  Although eligibility criteria for the project are quite specific — participants must be disadvantaged first-time mothers 24 years or younger — Esler says the group seems very diverse. “When I first meet people they’re polite and a bit reserved,” she says. “But as the interview progresses they open up a little bit more.”

The youngest participants — those under 19 years — may be living temporarily with their parents. Others might be homeless. Many are living on very low income. Some may have suffered serious childhood adversities. “They’re all in totally different situations, which surprised me a little,” Esler says. “But people are just people and I find them so interesting.”

Although she doesn’t know which women are receiving Nurse-Family Partnership (only 50% do), Esler interviews them all. This policy helps ensure the evaluation data are not biased. And everyone she interviews, Esler says, is excited about participating.

“I had one woman say to me, ‘oh my gosh, I’ve a hard time figuring out how to get what I need. If my taking part in this study will help someone else, then I’m really glad to do it.’”

Note that NFP is available only through the BC Healthy Connections Project for the duration of recruitment. Practitioners or young pregnant women can click here for details on how to reach public health and determine eligibility for the BCHCP.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy.