Miller early childhood sustained home visiting randomised control trial

Project Status

Chief Investigators
Elizabeth Harris, Cathy McMahon, Stephen Matthey, Graham Vimpani, Teresa Anderson, Virginia Schmied

Other Team Members
Sheryl Scharkie, Siggi Zapart


Health is not equally distributed in our community. Children born in areas of disadvantage do not have the same opportunity for good health as those living in more advantaged areas. In Australia and internationally there is increased interest in developing interventions that will reduce health inequalities and recognition that early childhood interventions offer the greatest potential for long term change.

Home visiting programs comprising intensive and sustained visits by professionals (usually nurses) over the first two years of life show promise in promoting child health and family functioning, and ameliorating disadvantage (‘sustained professional home visiting’ or SPHV). When supported by SPHV, trials (predominantly overseas) have shown that families with risk factors for adverse child outcomes have higher immunisation rates, significantly improved quality of the home environment, parent-child interaction, child development, family functioning; and reductions in the numbers of subsequent pregnancies, use of welfare, child abuse and neglect, and criminal behaviour.


To determine the impact of a comprehensive sustained professional home visiting program initiated antenatally for at risk mothers who reside in a community characterised by profound socioeconomic disadvantage on outcomes including household environment and health, development and well-being of the family, mother and child.

Design and Method

A randomised controlled trial design is being undertaken, with mothers allocated following recruitment and baseline data collection to either the intervention or control groups.

Intervention group: At risk mothers in the 2168 postcode area randomly allocated to receive SPHV in addition to usual care for families in the 2168 postcode area.

Control group: At risk mothers in the 2168 postcode area randomly allocated to receive usual care for families in the 2168 postcode area.

Key Publications

Kemp L, Harris E, Chavez R. (2006) Knowledge of SIDS prevention strategies in a multicultural, disadvantaged community. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. accepted for publication.

Kemp L, Anderson T, Harris E, Travaglia J (2005) Sustained nurse home visiting in early childhood: exploring Australian nursing competencies. Public Health Nursing.22;3:254-259