Replicating Evidence-Based Practices with Flexibility for Perinatal Home Visiting by Paraprofessionals

Erin J. Rotheram-Fuller, Dallas Swendeman, Kimberly D. Becker, Eric Daleiden, Bruce Chorpita, Danielle M. Harris, Neil T. Mercer, Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Introduction Strategies are needed to improve the efficacy of paraprofessional home visitors for pregnant women in the United States. This study evaluates the maternal and child outcomes when evidence-based practices (EBP) are replicated with flexibility, rather than fidelity to a manualized intervention. Methods Pregnant mothers (N = 203) in five clinics were recruited in the waiting rooms and randomized to standard clinic care as the control condition (n = 104) or standard care plus home visiting (n = 99). Home visitors (n = 9) were selected, trained in foundational skills common to EBP and four problem domains (weight control, breastfeeding, daily habits, and depression). Independent interviewers assessed targeted outcomes at birth (82%) and 6 months later (83%). Results: Home visitors, called Mentor Mothers [MM], made an average of 14.9 home visits or telephone contacts (SD = 9; total contacts = 1491) addressing maternal daily habits, breastfeeding, and depression. Intervention and control mothers were similar in weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), depression and social support at baseline and 6 months later. The percentage of low birth weight babies was similar; intervention infants’ growth (weight/height Z score) tended to be significantly better compared to the control condition. Discussion: There are many explanations for the failure to find significant benefits: insufficient statistical power; the benefits of repeated assessments by warm, supportive peers to improve outcomes; or the failure of EBP and the need to maintain replication with fidelity. All study mothers had better outcomes than documented among comparable published samples of low-income, Latina and Korean–American mothers in Los Angeles, CA. registration NCT01687634.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2209-2218
Number of pages10
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Intervention fidelity
  • Maternal body mass index
  • Maternal depression
  • Peer social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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