Home visiting is an effective preventive intervention that can improve parenting outcomes for at-risk, new mothers, thereby optimizing subsequent child development. A history of maltreatment in childhood is common in mothers participating in home visiting, yet the extent to which such a history is related to parenting outcomes during home visiting is unknown. The current study evaluated whether mothers with a history of maltreatment in childhood respond less favorably to home visiting by examining the direct and indirect pathways to subsequent parenting stress, a key parenting outcome affecting child development. First-time mothers (N = 220; age range = 16–42) participating in one of two home visiting programs, Healthy Families America or Nurse Family Partnership, were evaluated at enrollment and again at 9-and 18-month post-enrollment assessments. Researchers administered measures of maternal history of maltreatment in childhood, depressive symptoms, social support, and parenting stress. Maternal history of maltreatment in childhood predicted worsening parenting stress at the 18-month assessment. Mediation modeling identified two indirect pathways, one involving social support at enrollment and one involving persistent depressive symptoms during home visiting, that explained the relation between a history of maltreatment in childhood and parenting stress at the 18-month assessment. Ways to improve the preventive effects of home visiting for mothers with a history of maltreatment in childhood through the identification of relevant intervention targets and their ideal time of administration are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health