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Does Public Health Nurse Home Visitation Make a Difference in the Health Outcomes of Pregnant Clients and Their Offspring?


Address correspondence to Ann Fetrick, Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, 3140 N Street, Lincoln, NE 68510. E-mail:


Abstract  Public health nurses (PHNs) at Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department have used the Care Pathway tool to track client progress. Conceptually similar to critical pathways used in hospital settings, the Care Pathway is used by the PHN to document milestones of progress by trimester of pregnancy. Data for this research was gathered from chart review of 55 prenatal clients. Study results demonstrate that subjects who had from five to nine home visits by a PHN during pregnancy showed a higher average hemoglobin for the mothers and a higher average birthweight for the babies than those visited four or fewer times. None of the low birthweight babies was born to mothers in the “more visits” category. Furthermore, more breastfeeding was recorded for those who had received more PHN visits. This documentation enabled us to describe better the referent population and to begin to estimate the effect of PHN home visitation on the health outcomes of clients. In essence, we addressed the questions: (1) “Does PHN home visitation make a difference in health outcomes of clients and their families?” and (2) “If so, how can effects be measured?”