Can Early Intervention Improve Maternal Well-Being? Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial



Doyle OM, Delaney L, O'Farrelly C, Fitzpatrick N & Daly M (2017) Can Early Intervention Improve Maternal Well-Being? Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial. PLoS ONE, 12 (1), Art. No.: e0169829.

Objective   This study estimates the effect of a targeted early childhood intervention program on global and experienced measures of maternal well-being utilizing a randomized controlled trial design. The primary aim of the intervention is to improve children’s school readiness skills by working directly with parents to improve their knowledge of child development and parenting behavior. One potential externality of the program is well-being benefits for parents given its direct focus on improving parental coping, self-efficacy, and problem solving skills, as well as generating an indirect effect on parental well-being by targeting child developmental problems.  Methods   Participants from a socio-economically disadvantaged community are randomly assigned during pregnancy to an intensive 5-year home visiting parenting program or a control group. We estimate and compare treatment effects on multiple measures of global and experienced well-being using permutation testing to account for small sample size and a stepdown procedure to account for multiple testing.  Results  The intervention has no impact on global well-being as measured by life satisfaction and parenting stress or experienced negative affect using episodic reports derived from the Day Reconstruction Method (DRM). Treatment effects are observed on measures of experienced positive affect derived from the DRM and a measure of mood yesterday.  Conclusion   The limited treatment effects suggest that early intervention programs may produce some improvements in experienced positive well-being, but no effects on negative aspects of well-being. Different findings across measures may result as experienced measures of well-being avoid the cognitive biases that impinge upon global assessments.

PLoS ONE: Volume 12, Issue 1

Publication date17/01/2017
Publication date online17/01/2017
Date accepted by journal17/11/2016
PublisherPublic Library of Science