Formative Evaluation of Home Visitors’ Role in Addressing Poor Mental Health, Domestic Violence, and Substance Abuse Among Low-Income Pregnant and Parenting Women




S. Darius Tandon, Kathleen M. Parillo, Carrie Jenkins, and Anne K. Duggan

Brief Type

Journal Publication


  • Healthy Families America (HFA)
  • Other Models


Objectives: This research assessed home visitor effectiveness in communicating about and responding to poor mental health, domestic violence, and substance abuse among pregnant and parenting women home visited as part of a comprehensive family support strategy in seven urban communities.

Methods: Cross-sectional studies were conducted with mothers (n = 189) actively engaged in home visitation programs and home visitors (n = 45). Maternal interviews assessed need for and receipt of mental health, domestic violence, and substance abuse services, and home visitor discussion of these risk areas. Home visitor surveys assessed perceived adequacy of training and personal effectiveness in addressing these risk areas.

Results: Over half of mothers needed mental health, domestic violence, or substance abuse services; however, only 27% of mothers in need of service received services. Most mothers reported having communicated with their home visitor about the three risk areas, but there were no differences in communication frequency based on whether services were needed. Most home visitors perceived themselves as effective in communicating about and responding to these risk factors but rated the training they had received in these areas as less than adequate.

Conclusions: Home visitors could benefit from more intensive training in the formal assessment of risks and the protocols for communication about those risks with their clients. Home visitors could also receive support from and work in collaboration with professionals in addressing client risks. Further research on home visit content is needed to determine which strategies facilitate home visitors' ability to effectively communicate about and address client risks. (author abstract)

Data Collection Methods

  • Interviews
  • Standardized assessment tools


For More Information

Tandon, S. D., Parillo, K. M., Jenkins, C., & Duggan, A. K. (2005). Formative evaluation of home visitors' role in addressing poor mental health, domestic violence, and substance abuse among low-income pregnant and parenting women. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 9, 3, 273-83.
doi: 10.1007/s10995-005-0012-8
Author contact information:
Darius Tandon


  • Home Visiting Workforce Characteristics and Workforce Development
  • Participant Characteristics