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Keywords:

  • social support;
  • depression;
  • pregnancy;
  • Medicaid;
  • home visitation;
  • informal care;
  • self-esteem;
  • mental health;
  • psychological functioning

This study compared two groups of high-risk Medicaid-eligible mothers, 221 who participated in a maternal home visitation program and 198 who did not, to determine whether program participation was associated with improvements in the mothers' psychological functioning 1 year after delivery, and whether these improvements were associated with the type and intensity of support provided by home visitors. The results suggest that, compared to nonparticipants, participants provided with more intensive home visitor support had significantly higher self-esteem (p= 0.039) and were less depressed (p= 0.015). Participants with less intensive home visitor support, however, did not differ significantly from nonparticipants in their self-esteem or depression levels. No significant differences were observed in the perceived stress levels of participants as compared with nonparticipants, regardless of the intensity of home visitor support. Mothers who had support from the baby's father, however, had significantly lower perceived stress levels than mothers with no support from the baby's father (p= 0.046). Moreover, the type of support provided by home visitors (emotional, instrumental, informational) did not appear to be related to the mothers' psychological functioning. This study suggests that the intensity of support is an important component of maternal home visitation programs that aim to improve women's psychological functioning.