Robust evidence based on the effectiveness and implementation of the Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) programme is currently being built in England.

A formative evaluation of the first 10 sites was completed in 2011, establishing that the programme could be delivered well in England with good potential for benefits. The findings of a large-scale, independent, randomised control trial (RCT) that rigorously evaluated the programme’s effectiveness in the English context were published in October 2015. A wider programme of research is establishing how best to implement the FNP programme in England with studies on the family nurse workforce, use of interpreters in delivering the FNP programme, eligibility and local costs is also underway. 

Pilot evaluation

The early evaluation of the first 10 pilot FNP sites in England was carried out by Professor Jacqueline Barnes and colleagues at Birkbeck, University of London. The findings outlined that FNP could be de delivered well in England with fidelity to the programme model. It found that young mothers and fathers liked the programme and valued the materials that were used, that they engaged well and that there was a good potential for positive outcomes and longer-term cost savings.

The evaluation showed that mothers participating in FNP:

  • Stopped smoking in pregnancy or smoked fewer cigarettes
  • Initiated breast-feeding at a high rate
  • Coped better with pregnancy, labour and parenthood
  • Had increased confidence and aspirations for the future
  • Returned to education and took up paid employment
  • Felt positive about their parenting capacity and reported high levels of warm parenting.

It was also noted during this study that father involvement was heightened and safeguarding issues were identified early to the child protection system. In addition, FNP children were seen to be developing in line with the general population, which is very promising, as this group usually fares much worse. Family nurses were very positive about the programme, saying it gave them the chance to learn new skills and work intensively with clients.

Family Nurse Workforce Study

A 2012 study on the family nurse workforce by the Institute of Employment Studies found that family nurses and family nurse supervisors had a very positive view of their work, had very high levels of job satisfaction and found working in the FNP programme rewarding. They were highly motivated and the main reasons for being a family nurse was due to the FNP clinical model providing opportunities to ‘make a difference’ through building strong therapeutic relationships with young mothers and fathers.

Family Nurse Partnership Randomised Control Trial

The randomised control trial (RCT) of the FNP programme was commissioned by the Department of Health in 2009, and aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of the FNP programme in England. The RCT was carried out by Cardiff University and was known as ‘Building Blocks’. Read the results of the trial on the RCT page.