Use of Public Health Nursing Services: Relationship to Adequacy of Prenatal Care and Infant Outcome


Address correspondence to Kathleen A. Baldwin, Ph.D., R.N., University of Illinois, College of Nursing, One Illini Drive, Box 1649, Peoria, IL 61656-1649.


Abstract Timing of initial public health nurse contact and number of nurse contacts were examined for their relationship to adequacy of prenatal physician care, infant birthweight, and gestational age. Three historical cohort groups were drawn from three downstate Illinois counties: 1) public health nursing clients (N= 506); 2) Women, Infant, and Children Nutrition Program clients (N= 314); and 3) clients receiving neither of these services (N= 403). Data were obtained from local health department records and a state birth certificate data tape. Descriptive statistics and logistic and multiple regression were used to analyze data. Timing of initial public health nursing contact was significantly correlated to adequacy of prenatal physician contact and infant gestational age. No relationship was found between either timing of initial public health nursing contact or number of these contacts and infant birthweight. The number of public health nursing and physician contacts exerted an additive effect on birthweight and gestational age. Findings lend support for case-finding activities that result in public health nursing contacts early in pregnancy. The importance of multidisciplinary approaches to prenatal care is suggested.