Date of Award:

1995

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

Richard N. Roberts

Abstract

Leaders in the field of home visiting and family support research have indicated that the inclusion of home visiting in comprehensive services for low-income families with young children can play a key role in improving a wide variety of outcomes for at-risk children and their families. These recommendations have been based in part on selected empirical findings from the home visiting literature. However, synthesis of empirical findings has proven difficult, due to the heterogeneity of this population and the diverse applications of home visiting as a service delivery strategy.

The present meta-analysis examined a representative sample of the peer-reviewed literature to provide a comprehensive, quantified description of the features and findings of this literature. The four research questions addressed by the meta-analysis provide a framework for this description. The first research question concerned a description of research designs and methodological features found in the literature. The second and third research questions concerned, respectively, descriptions of the samples and interventions employed in primary studies. The final research question concerned the examination of those domains in which primary studies measured outcomes, and the quantification of outcomes in terms of standardized mean difference effect sizes.

Summarization of primary studies' methodological features illustrated specific issues that may be addressed in the design of future home visiting research, and laid a basis for the examination of meta-analysis findings. The composition of primary studies' samples reflected the heterogeneity expected from a population defined by a parameter as broad as "low-income," yet included lacunae that may represent subgroups among the poor that are not being studied. Data providing an assessment of several types of intervention features have implications for questions of treatment efficacy, and for future home visiting research. Mean effect sizes in several domains were found to have a magnitude of practical significance for child and family outcomes. Findings of this project provide a structure for continued meta-analysis of this body of literature, and highlight potential areas for further primary research. Meta-analysis data lend support to previous recommendations, as well as point out gaps in our knowledge.

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Psychology Commons

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