On behalf of our British Columbia Healthy Connections Project (Nurse-Family Partnership) colleagues and partners, we are pleased to share key findings from the scientific evaluation of British Columbia’s Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program that have just been published in the leading Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (JCPP). The full journal article can be found here (Catherine et al., 2023) and additional supporting information can be found here (https://childhealthpolicy.ca/child-language-and-mental-health/).
In 2022, the Canadian scientific evaluation of NFP was completed – the first randomized controlled trial of an early prevention program embedded within public health in British Columbia (BC) and Canada. The scientific evaluation of NFP, led by the Children’s Health Policy Centre at Simon Fraser University, has shown key results to date including:
- Reducing prenatal substance exposure, specifically decreasing cannabis exposure and also reducing cigarette use in smokers (Catherine et al., 2020);
- Benefits for maternal-reported child language and mental health problem behavior by age two years (Catherine et al., 2023) – these early benefits have the potential to positively impact long-term child health and development.
- New evidence on the feasibility and importance of reaching and including families experiencing inequities in BC (Catherine et al., 2021).
Through this trial, BC has demonstrated its support to evidence and providing high-quality, equitable services and care for families who most need it. This research contributes to the strong body of international evidence on programs that serve mothers and children experiencing inequities.
The NFP in BC is a clinical intervention designed to address the needs of young families experiencing extremes of adversity – including poverty, homelessness, and exposure to violence – by providing intensive home visits by public health nurses from early in pregnancy until children reach age two years. Since the program began in 2012 in BC, NFP has played a vital role in the lives of more than 2,100 families across BC (over 4,000 mothers and children) facing structural and systemic inequities.The BC Government (Ministries of Health and Children and Family Development) acknowledges the significant commitment of regional health authorities, BC Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions and many local partners to initiate and deliver this program in their communities. BC would also like to acknowledge the Canadian collaboration and NFP evaluations that began in 2008 with a successful acceptability and feasibility pilot study conducted in Ontario.
“These findings increase our confidence, based now on the results of multiple randomized trials, that Nurse-Family Partnership can improve the health and development of women and children in need. Huge congratulations to British Columbia for having the wisdom to invest in this well-conducted trial of this thoroughly developed program.” –David Olds, NFP Program Founder