Impact of a Child Abuse Primary Prevention Strategy for New Mothers

Kay M.G. O’Neill, Fallon Cluxton-Keller, Lori Burrell, Sarah K S Crowne, Anne Duggan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


First Steps (FS) is a brief obstetrics-based primary prevention strategy that aims to strengthen protective factors to prevent child maltreatment. This randomized controlled trial assessed how well FS services aligned with family interests and needs, how FS providers used communication strategies to build partnership with mothers, and the impact of FS on mothers’ parenting knowledge in core content areas and access to services. Mothers completed a baseline survey and were randomly assigned to FS and control conditions (n = 374 and 375, respectively). The parenting education services provided to mothers were assessed by independent participant report immediately postintervention for the full FS group and by analysis of audio-recordings of the FS encounter for a subsample (n = 150). Outcomes were measured at 4 months via maternal survey. Compared to controls at follow-up, FS mothers had significantly higher knowledge scores in some areas but similar access to needed services. Few mothers lacked access to most services at baseline, and FS content was similar to that provided by other hospital personnel. FS providers’ communication style promoted rapport, but providers did not tailor content to mothers’ educational and service access needs. Implications of the findings for similar services are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-14
Number of pages11
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Primary prevention of child maltreatment
  • Protective factors
  • Universal parenting support program

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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