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Lay Home Visiting May Improve Pregnancy Outcomes

Persily, Cynthia Armstrong PhD, RN

Focus on Women's Health

Home visiting may be a promising strategy to improve pregnancy outcomes, and home visiting by lay workers may be more accepted by pregnant women. Lay workers may impact on social and environmental risk factors as well as on health care utilization. As with any primary prevention strategy, these programs may be more successful if implemented with responsibility shared between the health care system and the community. This article reviews the state of the science related to lay home visiting during pregnancy in the United States. Using a variety of search terms, an exhaustive review of the literature was conducted using several large electronic databases. Studies of lay home visiting during pregnancy have documented mixed results. Many weaknesses exist in the studies available, including use of descriptive or quasi-experimental designs in most of the studies, absence of a clearly specified set of interventions, and lack of cost analysis. Gaps in our knowledge of the impact of lay home visitors on pregnancy outcomes persist.

From the West Virginia University School of Nursing, Charleston, WVa.

Corresponding author: Cynthia Armstrong Persily, PhD, RN, West Virginia University School of Nursing, 3100 MacCorkle Ave SE, Charleston, WV 25304 (e-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.