Evaluation of Early Childhood Home Visiting to Prevent Medically Attended Unintentional Injury

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Abstract

Study objective:

We evaluated the influence of home visiting on the risk for medically attended unintentional injury during home visiting (0 to 3 years) and subsequent to home visiting (3 to 5 years).

Methods:

A retrospective, quasi-experimental study was conducted in a cohort of mother-child pairs in Hamilton County, OH. The birth cohort (2006 to 2012) was linked to administrative home visiting records and data from a population-based injury surveillance system containing records of emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations. Cox proportional-hazard regression was used to compare medically attended unintentional injury risk (0 to 2, 0 to 3, and 3 to 5 years) in a home-visited group versus a propensity score–matched comparison group. The study population was composed of 2,729 mother-child pairs who received home visiting and 2,729 matched mother-child pairs in a comparison group.

Results:

From birth to 2 years, 17.2% of the study population had at least one medically attended unintentional injury. The risk for medically attended unintentional injury from aged 0 to 2 and 0 to 3 years was significantly higher in the home-visited group relative to the comparison group (hazard ratio 1.17, 95% confidence interval 1.01 to 1.35; hazard ratio 1.15, 95% confidence interval 1.00 to 1.31, respectively). Additional injuries in the home-visited group were superficial, and the increased risk for medically attended unintentional injury was observed for ED visits and not hospitalizations.

Conclusion:

Home-visited children were more likely to have a medically attended unintentional injury from birth to aged 3 years. This finding may be partially attributed to home visitor surveillance of injuries or greater health care–seeking behavior. Implications and alternative explanations are discussed.

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