Cradling Our Future Through Family Strengthening Study

2014-08-27 03:42:40 | BioPortfolio


The purpose of this study is to determine whether an in-home, paraprofessional-delivered family strengthening curriculum entitled Family Spirit is effective at increasing parental competence, improving maternal outcomes and improving childhood outcomes in a sample of at-risk teen mothers living in four Native American reservation communities. The effectiveness of the Family Spirit curriculum will be determined by comparing outcomes of mothers who receive the intervention plus assisted transportation to prenatal and well baby visits (called Optimal Standardized Care) to mothers who receive only Optimal Standardized Care. Outcomes will be assessed at multiple intervals over the course of a 39-month study period.


American Indians (AIs) in reservation communities have the poorest health, education and socioeconomic status of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S., placing AI youth at increased risk for drug abuse (alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, etc.) and adverse health and behavior outcomes. This study focuses on one of the most vulnerable groups of reservation-based AIs—AI teen mothers and their children.

Over the past two decades a number of research-based health promotion and drug abuse prevention programs for youth have been found to be effective. Of these, parenting interventions have been found to be more effective than other types of interventions. Home visiting programs for young, high-risk mothers have been designed to impact a wide range of outcomes--parenting, child and maternal health and behavior outcomes. More than 40 studies have been published since 1982 supporting the short and long-term efficacy of home visiting programs delivered during pregnancy and early childhood for low-income families. Positive outcomes have been demonstrated for improved parenting and the home environment; increased social support for mothers and children from extended family members and improved maternal health and behavior outcomes; increased birth spacing; improved children's health and behavior outcomes; prevention of child abuse and neglect; and reduced drug use.

AI teen mothers and their offspring are arguably the most vulnerable and underserved population at risk for drug abuse and adverse health and behavior outcomes in the U.S. Given their high-risk status, pregnant AI teens are likely to benefit from a parenting-focused, home visiting intervention. Cultural support for developing individual strengths through a family-based model and the noted cultural relevance of employing AI paraprofessionals are expected to enhance participants' outcomes. As nearly half of AI women begin child-bearing in adolescence, improvement in outcomes of teen mothers and their offspring could substantially impact the public health and welfare of AI communities.

Both nurses and paraprofessionals have been utilized in effective home visiting programs. However, the shortage of indigenous nurses in reservation communities renders an AI nurse-delivered, home visiting intervention unfeasible for the participating communities at this time. Further, young AI women's discomfort with health care delivered by non-Indians and the potential for cultural barriers with non-Indian home visitors provides an additional rationale for AI paraprofessionals as home visitors.

Successful home visiting programs maintain a standard for frequency and dosage of visits, employ strategies for participant retention, provide intensive training, frequent direct supervision and intensive quality assurance measures. For this study, we will maintain the highest standards for dosage, retention strategies, home visitor training and supervision, and quality assurance. The core content of the curriculum is based on American Academy of Pediatrics' comprehensive guidelines for preparing mothers to care for infants and young children, with cultural adaptations derived through guidance from our Native Advisory Board and an iterative process of community input.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Control: Active Control, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Open Label, Primary Purpose: Prevention


Substance Abuse


Family Spirit curriculum


Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health
Fort Defiance
United States




National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-08-27T03:42:40-0400

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