Since adolescent mothers are at risk for depression, school dropout, and poor parenting, as well as rapidly becoming pregnant again, this study evaluated the impact of a community-based home-visiting program on these outcomes and on linking the adolescents with primary care.
Pregnant adolescents aged 12 to 18 years, predominantly with low incomes and of African American race, were recruited from urban prenatal care sites and randomly assigned to home visiting or usual care. Trained home visitors, recruited from local communities, were paired with each adolescent and provided services through the child's second birthday. They delivered a parenting curriculum, encouraged contraceptive use, connected the teen with primary care, and promoted school continuation. Research assistants collected data via structured interviews at baseline and at 1 and 2 years of follow-up, using validated instruments to measure parenting (Adult-Adolescent Parenting Inventory) and depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression). School status and repeat pregnancy were self-reported. Program impact was measured over time with intention-to-treat analyses, using generalized estimating equations (GEE). Of 122 eligible pregnant adolescents, 84 consented, completed baseline assessments, and were randomized to a home-visited group (n - 44) or a control group (n - 40). Eighty-three percent completed year 1 or year 2 follow-up assessments, or both. With GEE, controlling for baseline differences, follow-up parenting scores for home-visited teens were 5.5 points higher than those for control teens (95 percent confidence interval, 0.5-10.4 points; P - .03) and their adjusted odds of school continuation were 3.5 times greater (95 percent confidence interval, 1.1-11.8; P <.05). The program did not have any impact on repeat pregnancy, depression, or linkage with primary care. This community-based home-visiting program improved adolescent mothers' parenting attitudes and school continuation, but it did not reduce their odds of repeat pregnancy or depression or achieve coordination with primary care. Coordinated care may require explicit mechanisms to promote communication between the community program and primary care. 5 tables, 1 figure, and 52 references (publisher abstract modified)