The feasibility of delivering group Family
Jacqueline Barnes and Jane Stuart
Jacqueline Barnes is a Professor of
Psychology at the Department of
Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck,
University of London, London, UK.
Jane Stuart is based at the
Department of Psychological
Sciences, Birkbeck, University of
London, London, UK.
Purpose –The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the feasibility of delivering the group family nurse
partnership (gFNP)programme, which combines elements of the family nurse partnership (FNP) programme
and CenteringPregnancy and is offered fromearly pregnancy to 12 months postpartumto mothers under 25.
Design/methodology/approach –A mixed method descriptive feasibility study. Quantitative data from
anonymised forms completed by nurses from November 2009 to May 2011 (pilot 1) and January 2012 to
August 2013 (pilot 2) reporting referrals, attendance and client characteristics. Qualitative data collected
between March 2010 and April 2011 (pilot 1) and November 2012 and November 2013 (pilot 2) from
semi-structured interviews or focus groups with clients and practitioners.
Findings –There were challenges to reaching eligible clients. Uptake of gFNP was 57-74 per cent,
attendance ranged from 39 to 55 per cent of sessions and attrition ranged from 30 to 50 per cent. Clients
never employed attended fewest sessions overall compared to those working full time. The group format and
the programme’s content were positively received by clients but many struggled to attend regularly. FNP
practitioners were positive overall but involving community practitioners (pilot 2) placed more stress on them.
Research limitations/implications –Further feasibility and then cost and effectiveness research is
necessary to determine the optimal staffing model.
Practical implications –The content and style of support of the home-based FNP programme, available
only to first time mothers under 20, could be offered to women over 20 and to those who already have a child.
Social implications –A range of interventions is needed to support potentially vulnerable families.
Originality/value –This new complex intervention lacks evidence. This paper documents feasibility, the first
step in a thorough evaluation process.
Keywords Parenting, Nurses, Pregnancy, Early infancy, Group support, Parent-child relationship
Paper type Research paper
This paper presents evidence from two pilot feasibility studies of group family nurse partnership
(gFNP), a new intervention aimed at helping young parents develop their health, well-being,
confidence and social support in pregnancy and their children’s health and parenting in the first year
of life (Family Nurse Partnership National Unit, 2015). In addition the programme aims to raise
aspirations about future education and employment to increase support for the family in the future.
Early intervention is promoted as a means of improving child and family outcomes (Allen, 2011). With a
strong US evidence base, the nurse family partnership (NFP) programme offers home-visiting to
potentially vulnerable first-time mothers from a specially trained family nurse (FN), starting early in
pregnancy until infants are 24 months of age, using a manualised curriculum (Olds, 2006). US
evidence indicates that it improves maternal self-concept, parenting skills, family relationships and
future life-course development, with some support from research in the Netherlands (Mejdoubi et al.,
2015) though as yet the UK evidence has failed to support this (Robling et al., 2016). NFP was
Received 7 December 2015
Revised 30 December 2015
Accepted 3 January 2016
The authors would like to express
the thanks to all the clients, their
partners, the FNP Family Nurses
and other professionals who took
the time to take part in the
interviews and to the FNP Family
Nurses, supervisors and
administrators who made sure that
all relevant programme forms were
completed and submitted while
they delivered this new
programme. The authors would
also like to express the thanks to
Mary Griffiths, FNP National Unit
Service Development and New
Projects Lead with responsibility
for managing the development and
refinement of gFNP, for her
ongoing discussions about gFNP
delivery and to Samantha Mason,
FNP National Unit Research and
Implementation Director for her
feedback on all research reports.
Thanks are also due to Beth
Howden for organising and
converting data from the various
forms, to Juliet Henderson for
conducting and interpreting pilot 1
interviews and to Elizabeth Klauber
for conducting some pilot 2
interviews. Pilot 1 was funded by a
grant to Professor Barnes from the
Department of Health (ITT 53166)
and pilot 2 was funded by grants
to Professor Barnes from the
Department of Health (ITT 58587)
and the Family Nurse Partnership
National Unit at the Tavistock and
Portman NHS Trust.
JOURNAL OF CHILDREN'S SERVICES
VOL. 11 NO. 2 2016, pp. 170-186, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1746-6660 DOI 10.1108/JCS-12-2015-0035