Tea Trillingsgaard

Early Parent-infant Interactions; Are Health Visitors' Observations Reliable? Cross-sectional study of Marte Meo therapists' Competence

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Early Parent-infant Interactions: Are Health Visitors’ Observations Reliable?
Cross-sectional study of Danish Marte Meo Therapists’ Competence

The quality of parent-infant relations is essential for infant development, and its assessment by health visitors is potentially important to promote healthy relations. The objectives of this study were to explore health visitors’ observation skills assessing parent-infant interaction and their intention, self-efficacy and knowledge in early relationship.

Design and participants: Cross-sectional study in 6 municipalities in Denmark included all health visitors working in the area. The study population consisted of 121 health visitors, 36 had a standardized parenting program education (certified Marte Meo therapists) and 85 had no standardized parenting program education.
Measures: A self-reported questionnaire assessing intention, self-efficacy and knowledge in promoting early relationship and a test in observation skills assessing 5 video recorded mother-infants interactions. The videos represented different patterns of interactions and were master coded prior to the study in four dimensions: at risk, inept, adequate and sensitive according to the Infant CARE-Index. Health visitors individually reviewed each video twice august 2013.
Data analyzed in STATA estimating frequencies, associations and comparing answers from the two groups of health visitors.

Both groups had high intentions and self-efficacy according to working with parent-infant relations, and there was no significant difference between the two groups according to intentions, self-efficacy, age, years educated and working part or full time.
Certificated Marte Meo-therapists had significantly higher skills assessing mother- infant interactions and they scored significantly higher in knowing more about parent-infant relations than health visitors without a parenting program education.
Health visitors without a parenting program education reported significantly higher need for further qualifications in parent-infants relations.

Findings indicate that though all health visitors have high intention and self-efficacy to work with parent-infant relation, professionals certified as Marte Meo-therapists are 8-12% superior in terms of observation skills and knowledge.

Further research is needed to determinate whether the level of knowledge and observation skills is associated with improved outcomes for parental and infant health.


Parent-infant interaction, health visitor, observation skills, Infant CARE-Index, Marte Meo method.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2014
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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