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Health visitors use of video helps vulnerable families

January 26, 2018

A new research study from Aarhus University shows that when the health visitor uses video feedback in accordance with the Marte Meo method as part of his or her work with the new mother, it strengthens the relationship between the infant child and the mother.

The study underlines that when the health visitor reviews the video clips with the mother and talks about what is working well, this helps to promote the early establishment of relations. This has colossal importance for the development of a strong and healthy relationship between mother and child.

The person behind the study is health visitor, PhD and Master of public health science, Ingeborg Hedegaard Kristensen from the Section for Nursing at the Department of Public Health at Aarhus University. The study has been published in BMC Pregnancy Childbirth.

A total of 69 families participated in the research study. They had been identified in advance as being particularly vulnerable, either because of a premature birth, an incipient postnatal depression or other conditions which threatened their ability as parents. During the period, the families received four extra visits from a health visitor with a Marte Meo therapeutic education. At these visits, the mother was video filmed while she was together with her child. The result shows an improvement in the early mother and child relationship in almost all 69 families who participated in the programme when compared to the 209 families who participated in the control group. This group received the usual healthcare visits that municipalities make available to vulnerable families.

The research project is the first study of a standardised parenting programme with video feedback in a Danish context.

"The study documents that the Marte Meo method has a beneficial effect on the relationship between mothers and children. With video feedback, the health visitor can focus on what works, and on what needs support to improve. For example, when the mother and child have eye contact, or when voices have a relaxed tone," says Ingeborg Hedegaard Kristensen. "Healthy early relationships between parents and children are very, very important for their future health. It is therefore important to know what has the greatest effect, so that help can be quickly provided for those families who need it," says Ingeborg Hedegaard Kristensen.

She emphasises that in the field of parenting programmes, thoroughly tested and evidence-based studies in a Danish context are important.

"In the municipalities, you can find many pedagogical concepts and methods, both with and without video, but in some cases the effect is based on impartial evaluations or individual positive experience. Or there are programmes where the effect has been tested in other countries. But it is not always the case that you can transfer an effect from a foreign study to the Danish healthcare sector, where the health visitor area generally works well. The result is therefore important for e.g. a municipality that is about to invest in a method or a parenting programme which they then have to train their healthcare professionals to use," says Ingeborg Hedegaard Kristensen.
Facts about Marte Meo

The Marte Meo method is used in families, in family day-care, day-care institutions, 24-hour care centres, specialised institutions within psychiatric treatment and nursing homes. It builds on the principles for development supporting communication.

Several municipalities have health visitors with Marte Meo therapeutic training.

In Marte Meo, the starting point is what someone does well with focus on opportunities rather than limitations. Via selected video clips, people are given specific actions to improve interaction and support development.

Source: Hedegaard Kristensen

About the study:

Type of study: Quasi-experimental study in which 69 families received on average 4.2 extra home visits with video feedback, which were then compared to 209 Danish families who received the usual healthcare.

Aarhus University

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