Background: Despite growing recognition of the importance of fathers in child abuse risk, the field of perinatal home visitation has only begun to consider fathers' roles in the implementation of such services. Objectives: This study examines the effectiveness of Dads Matter-HV (“DM-HV”), a father-inclusion enhancement to home visitation, and hypothesized mediators of impact. Methods: A multisite cluster randomized controlled trial was conducted with 17 home visiting program teams serving 204 families across study conditions. Program supervisors and their teams were randomized to deliver home visiting services plus DM-HV enhanced services (intervention) or home visiting services alone (control). Data were collected at three time points: baseline, 4 months post-baseline immediately following the intervention, and 12 months post-baseline. We employed structural equation modeling to estimate the effect of the intervention on physical child abuse risk and to trace hypothesized mediators, including the quality of the father-worker relationship, parents' partner support and abuse, and the timing of service initiation. Results: Results indicated that the DM-HV enhancement improved home visitor relationships with fathers, but only for families receiving services initiated postnatally. For these families, the improved quality of the father-worker relationship predicted improved parents' support of one another and reduced bidirectional mother-father partner abuse at 4-month follow-up, which in turn lowered maternal physical child abuse risk and paternal physical child abuse risk at 12-month follow-up. Conclusions: DM-HV can strengthen the impact of home visitation services on physical child abuse risk for families when services are initiated postnatally.
- Home visitation
- Physical child abuse
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health