Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) has been the subject of four decades of international research, including randomised controlled trials in the US, the Netherlands and in England.
Early Intervention Foundation Guidebook
The Early Intervention Foundation’s Guidebook provides a summary of the evidence base for the Family Nurse Partnership programme:
“FNP has established evidence (Level 4+) of improving a variety of child and parent outcomes, including attachment security in the short term, children’s early language development and reduced risk of preventable death in early adulthood.”
Two major studies about FNP England have contributed to an understanding of the programme in England.
Building Blocks 0-2, published in 2015, showed that young vulnerable parents engaged well with FNP and especially valued the long-term relationship they had with their family nurse. It found that FNP has positive effects on early child development. It showed no effect on the short-term outcomes measured in the trial, including breastfeeding, smoking in pregnancy and subsequent pregnancies.
Learning from this, the FNP National Unit led a major programme of work to design and test adaptations to the programme: the FNP ADAPT project. As a result, a series of improvements to increase the overall quality and efficiency of FNP were rolled out in 2020.
Building Blocks 2-6, published in 2021, focussed on outcomes for the children of mothers enrolled in FNP up to age 6, alongside a comparison group receiving usual care. The researchers used data linkage to identify participants from the original Building Blocks 0-2 study, tracking them in routine health, education and social care to compare outcomes for both sets of children.
The study showed that FNP “improved children’s levels of schools readiness” (Early Years Foundation Stage) and “increased reading scores” for all FNP children at Key Stage 1. “Writing scores improved as a result of Family Nurse Partnership for boys, children of young mothers and mothers who were not in employment, education or training when first recruited to the study (in pregnancy).” The study found that FNP children were just as likely to be referred to children’s social care, registered as in need, placed on a child protection plan or go into care. It also found no difference in how many children attended hospital emergency departments, including duration of stay.
Read more about the FNP National Unit’s response to this study.
In the US
Nurse-Family Partnership, as it is known in the US, has undergone three large-scale randomised control trials (RCTs). This research has shown the programme to:
- Improve pregnancy health and behaviours
- Reduce child abuse and neglect
- Improve school readiness
- Increase maternal employment and economic self sufficiency
- Reduce closely spaced subsequent pregnancies.
US research has also shown significant returns on investment to Government and to wider society.
Latest US research:
Randomised control trial studies published in the journal Pediatrics in November 2019 show long-term benefits for children and mothers who participated in the Nurse-Family Partnership programme in the US.
Read the studies in Pediatrics journal: study one about children and study two about mothers.