1Unità per la Ricerca sui Servizi Sanitari Istituto per l’infanzia IRCCS “Burlo Garofolo”, Trieste;
2Servizio di Epidemiologia e Biostatistica, Direzione Scientifica, Istituto per l’infanzia IRCCS “Burlo Garofolo”, Trieste;
3Servizio di NPI, AUSL Cesena;
4CSB - ONLUS, Trieste
Key words: Parenting, Peer counselors, Home visitation, Social risk
Early (pre and postnatal) support to parents is widely seen as an effective strategy to improve both parental and child wellbeing and health. The effects of two different interventions addressing parents during the first year of life of their baby were evaluated. Both interventions were based on a peer counsellor (mother-to-mother) approach, but while parents at social risk received a more complex intervention including home visitations, unselected parents were offered only the participation to meetings among them, with some professional support. 102 families (53 at risk and 49 not at risk) took part in the study, 31 received the intervention and 71 were controls. Results show that at risk parents are less likely to comply to good health practices (28.3% vs 83.7%), more likely to be at risk of maternal depression (30.2% vs. 10.2%) less likely to offer an adequate home environment (13.5% vs. 61.2%); their babies had a lower score at development scales (although all within the normal range). Families receiving the interventions in the at risk group improved over time their compliance with good health practices (42.9% vs 28.3%), the adequacy of the home environment (71.4% vs. 51.3%). Unselected parents also received some benefit from the intervention. Programmes of early support to parents need to be promoted at large scale and can be based on non-professional interventions. A simple multidimensional evaluation approach is recommended.
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