Can Typical US Home Visits Affect Infant Attachment? Preliminary Findings From a Randomized Trial of Healthy Families Durham




Lisa J. Berlin, Tiffany L. Martoccio, Karen Appleyard Carmody, W. Benjamin Goodman, Karen O'Donnell, Janis Williams, Robert A. Murphy, and Kenneth A. Dodge

Brief Type

Journal publication


  • Healthy Families America (HFA)


US government-funded early home visiting services are expanding significantly. The most widely implemented home visiting models target at-risk new mothers and their infants. Such home visiting programs typically aim to support infant-parent relationships; yet, such programs' effects on infant attachment quality per se are as yet untested. Given these programs' aims, and the crucial role of early attachments in human development, it is important to understand attachment processes in home visited families. The current, preliminary study examined 94 high-risk mother-infant dyads participating in a randomized evaluation of the Healthy Families Durham (HFD) home visiting program. We tested (a) infant attachment security and disorganization as predictors of toddler behavior problems and (b) program effects on attachment security and disorganization. We found that (a) infant attachment disorganization (but not security) predicted toddler behavior problems and (b) participation in HFD did not significantly affect infant attachment security or disorganization. Findings are discussed in terms of the potential for attachment-specific interventions to enhance the typical array of home visiting services. (author abstract)

Data Collection Methods

  • Home Visit Observations
  • Standardized assessment tools



For More Information

Berlin, L. J., Martoccio, T. L., Appleyard Carmody, K., Goodman, W. B., O’Donnell, K., Williams, J., . . . Dodge, K. A. (2017). Can typical US home visits affect infant attachment? Preliminary findings from a randomized trial of Healthy Families Durham. Attachment & Human Development, 19(6), 559–579. http://doi.org/10.1080/14616734.2017.1339359
Author Contact Information:
Lisa J. Berlin


  • Participant, Family, and Program Outcomes