• child health promotion;
  • health policy;
  • health visiting;
  • preventive health services;
  • public health nurses

condon l. (2011) Do targeted child health promotion services meet the needs of the most disadvantaged? A qualitative study of the views of health visitors working in inner-city and urban areas in England. Journal of Advanced Nursing 67(9), 2209–2219.


Aim.  The aim of this study was to explore health visitors’ views on the effects of policy change on the services they offer to preschool children in areas of high health inequalities in England.

Background.  Child health promotion services are offered throughout the world to maintain and improve children’s health. It is not known how the policy shift to a more overtly targeted service, which has occurred in some countries, has affected child health promotion practice in areas of deprivation.

Methods.  An in-depth telephone interview study was conducted between October 2006 and January 2007. All participants (n = 25) were registered health visitors who had taken part in a 2005 National Survey of Child Health Promotion Practice in England and were delivering health promotion services to preschool children in inner-city and urban areas.

Results.  Despite high levels of need, some children who would have benefited from an enhanced health visiting service were offered only the core programme. Local interpretation of national policy is a key factor in determining the level of service offered, and the extent of targeting.

Conclusion.  This study illustrates the importance, in any country, of exploring the effects of national policy change from the perspective of practitioners, to identify unintended outcomes. Reductions in the core child health promotion programme can lead to difficulties in monitoring and improving children’s health outcomes in areas of deprivation.