Evidence-based preventive interventions are rarely final products. They have reached a stage of development that warrant public investment but require additional research and development to strengthen their effects. The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), a program of nurse home visiting, is grounded in findings from replicated randomized controlled trials.
Evidence-based programs require replication in accordance with the models tested in the original randomized controlled trials in order to achieve impacts comparable to those found in those trials, and yet they must be changed in order to improve their impacts, given that interventions require continuous improvement. This article provides a framework and illustrations of work our team members have developed to address this tension.
Because the NFP is delivered in communities outside of research contexts, we used quantitative and qualitative research to identify challenges with the NFP program model and its implementation, as well as promising approaches for addressing them.
We describe a framework used to address these issues and illustrate its use in improving nurses’ skills in retaining participants, reducing closely spaced subsequent pregnancies, responding to intimate partner violence, observing and promoting caregivers’ care of their children, addressing parents’ mental health problems, classifying families’ risks and strengths as a guide for program implementation, and collaborating with indigenous health organizations to adapt and evaluate the program for their populations. We identify common challenges encountered in conducting research in practice settings and translating findings from these studies into ongoing program implementation.
The conduct of research focused on quality improvement, model improvement, and implementation in NFP practice settings is challenging, but feasible, and holds promise for improving the impact of the NFP.