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Do home-visit programs for mothers with infants reduce parenting stress and increase social capital in Japan?
  1. Takeo Fujiwara1,2,
  2. Keiko Natsume2,3,
  3. Makiko Okuyama4,
  4. Takuyo Sato5,
  5. Ichiro Kawachi6
  1. 1Department of Social Medicine, National Research Institute for Child Health and Development, Tokyo, Japan
  2. 2Department of Health Promotion, National Institute of Public Health, Saitama, Japan
  3. 3Department of Health and Welfare, Aichi Prefectural government, Aichi, Japan
  4. 4Department of Psychosocial Medicine, National Center for Child Health and Development, Tokyo, Japan
  5. 5Department of Planning and Intelligence, Osaka Medical Center and Research Institute for Maternal and Child Health, Osaka, Japan
  6. 6Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Takeo Fujiwara, Department of Social Medicine, National Research Institute for Child Health and Development, 2-10-1 Okura, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 157-8535, Japan; tfujiwara{at}


Background Distress during child rearing is known as a risk factor for child maltreatment. In addition, it is known that social capital can be a preventive factor for child maltreatment. The purpose of this study is to evaluate whether the home-visit program reduces parenting stress and increases the social capital in the community.

Methods The home-visit program was implemented when the infants were 1–2 month of age (by public health nurses or midwives) and/or 4 months of age for those mothers who agreed to a home visit by trained community staff. Self-administered questionnaires on parenting stress scale and social capital were sent to all mothers who delivered a baby between August and November 2009 in two cities in the Aichi prefecture, Japan.

Results Among 936 mothers, 347 mothers (follow-up rate: 37%) completed both questionnaires. Scores on parenting stress scale scores at 4 months were lower than those at 1–2 months among the four groups (no home visit, home visit at 1–2 months, home visit at 4 months and both). The social trust scores at 4 months were higher than those at 1–2 months in every group; however, multivariate regression analysis showed that there were no differences in the reduction of the parenting stress scale scores and increase in social trust between the four groups.

Conclusion The home-visit program conducted once or twice by public health nurses or trained community staff for mothers with infants showed no substantial reduction in maternal stress and no increase in social trust.

  • Home-visit program
  • social capital
  • intervention
  • parenting stress
  • child maltreatment
  • child health
  • epidemiology
  • maternal health
  • mental health
  • social epidemiology

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  • Funding This study is partly supported by grant from Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (H23-Seisaku-Ippan-005).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent We used questionnaire and fill out of the questionnaire was considered consent, which was approved by Ethics Committee at National Institute of Public Health.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by the Ethics Committee at the National Institute of Public Health.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.