Doggett C, Burrett S, Osborn D, Osborn D. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005 Oct 19;4:CD004456.
BACKGROUND: One potential method of improving outcome for pregnant or postpartum women with a drug or alcohol problem is with home visits.
OBJECTIVES: To determine the effects of home visits during pregnancy and/or after birth for pregnant women with a drug or alcohol problem.
SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Trials Register (30 April 2004), CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library, Issue 2, 2004), MEDLINE (1966 to April 2004), EMBASE (1980 to week 16, 2004), CINAHL (1982 to April 2004), PsycINFO (1974 to April 2004), citations from previous reviews and trials, and contacted expert informants.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Studies using random or quasi- random allocation of pregnant or postpartum women with a drug or alcohol problem to home visits. Trials enrolling high-risk women of whom more than 50% were reported to use drugs or alcohol were also eligible.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Assessments of trials were performed independently by all review authors. Statistical analyses were performed using fixed and random-effects models where appropriate.
MAIN RESULTS: Six studies (709 women) compared home visits after birth with no home visits. None provided a significant antenatal component of home visits. The visitors included community health nurses, pediatric nurses, trained counsellors, paraprofessional advocates, midwives and lay African- American women. Most studies had methodological limitations, particularly large losses to follow up. There were no significant differences in continued illicit drug use (2 studies, 248 women; relative risk (RR) 0.95, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.75 to 1.20), continued alcohol use (RR 1.08, 95% CI 0.83 to 1.41) failure to enrol in a drug treatment program (2 studies, 211 women; RR 0.45 95% CI 0.10 to 1.94). There was no significant difference in the Bayley MDI (3 studies, 199 infants; weighted mean difference 2.89, 95% CI -1.17 to 6.95) or Psychomotor Index (WMD 3.14, 95% CI -0.03 to 6.32). Other outcomes reported by one study only included breastfeeding at six months (RR 1.00, 95% CI 0.81 to 1.23), incomplete six-month infant vaccination schedule (RR 1.07, 95% CI 0.58 to 1.96), non-accidental injury and non-voluntary foster care (RR 0.16, 95% CI 0.02 to 1.23), failure to use postpartum contraception (RR 0.41, 95% CI 0.20 to 0.82), child behavioural problems (RR 0.46, 95% CI 0.21 to 1.01), and involvement with child protective services (RR 0.38, 95% CI 0.20 to 0.74).
AUTHORS’ CONCLUSIONS: There is insufficient evidence to recommend the routine use of home visits for women with a drug or alcohol problem. Further large, high-quality trials are needed, and women’s views on home visiting need to be assessed.