Predictors of family focused practice among health visitors: A mixed methods study

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Abstract

Aims: To determine what predicts health visitors’ family focused practice with mothers who have mental illness. To explore health visitors’ experiences of family focused practice and what factors, if any, enable and or hinder it. Design: A sequential mixed methods design was employed. Methods: In Phase 1, 230 health visitors, in five Health and Social Care Trusts in the United Kingdom were recruited using convenience sampling and completed the Family Focused Mental Health Practice Questionnaire. Three multiple regression models were developed to test whether workload (Model I), professional knowledge (Model II) and health visitors’ professional and personal experience (Model III) predicted their family focused practice. In Phase 2, 10 health visitors, who completed the questionnaire, participated in semi-structured interviews to describe their experiences of family focused practice. The data collection of the two phases was conducted from September 2017 - September 2018. Results: Model III was significant. While personal experience of parenting was positively associated with family focused practice, length registered as a health visitor and personal experience of mental illness was negatively associated. Qualitative findings suggested that increasing years of professional experiencespan style="font-family:'Times New Roman'"> and personal experience of mental illness enabled health visitors to support mothers and their children, but not other adult family members, including partners. Limited skills and knowledge to support mothers with severe mental illness (i.e. schizophrenia) hindered family focused practice. Conclusion: This study advances understanding of how health visitors’ professional and personal experiences can influence their family focused practice and highlights the importance of organisations promoting their capacity to support mothers with severe mental illness and to include mothers’ partners. Impact: A clear understanding of factors affecting health visitors’ capacity to engage in family focused practice will help to inform policy, education and practice in health visiting; with potential to improve outcomes for the whole family.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2020

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