Mothers' Experiences of Facilitated Peer Support Groups and Individual Child Health Nursing Support: A Comparative Evaluation

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The “Early Bird Program” is a support group facilitated by child and family health nurses and offered to families of infants aged 0–8 weeks in South East Sydney, Australia. This paper describes the experiences of 20 women who participated in the Early Bird groups and 20 women who chose to use individual consultations with the child and family health nurse. The qualitative evaluation used focus groups and interviews with the 40 women, and data were analysed using content analysis. Key findings show the Early Bird Program mothers received support and knowledge from both the nurses and each other, while the women who utilised the individual consultations with the nurses sought out and received specific services and information that focused on the baby. The group approach appears to promote group relationships and to empower mothers as a group by de-emphasising the power and expertise of the professional.

Keywords: child health nurse; first-time mothers; maternal-infant health; open groups; peer support

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Sue Kruske is a certified nurse midwife at the Centre for Family Health and Midwifery in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. 2: Virginia Schmied is deputy director of the Centre for Family Health and Midwifery at the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. 3: Ivy Sutton is a child and family health nurse at St. George Child and Family Health Services for the South East Sydney Area Health Service. 4: Joan O'Hare is a nurse unit manager at St. George Child and Family Health Services for the South East Sydney Area Health Service.

Publication date: June 1, 2004

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