Family Nurse Partnership National Unit

The FNP National Unit supports the high quality implementation of the Family Nurse Partnership programme in England. Support covers four broad areas:

  • learning and coaching of family nurses
  • local delivery
  • research and analysis
  • growth and commissioning.

The Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) is an intensive home visiting programme for first time young mothers and their children, which has been developed in the US over the past 35 years. The programme goals are to improve antenatal health, improve child health and development and economic self-sufficiency. The methods are based on theories of human ecology, self-efficacy and attachment, which are reflected in the programme materials and visit-by-visit guidelines. FNP was introduced to England in 2007.  The FNP National Unit have a programme of research and analysis to support the high quality delivery and development of the FNP programme working in collaboration with a range of partners.

Project detail

The Family Nurse Partnership Programme has been developed over the past 35 years in the US by Professor David Olds at the University of Denver in Colorado based on a rigorous programme of research and testing. This included three large scale randomised controlled trials, which tested the programme in different context and have followed the families up over the long term into their teenage years and adulthood.  These trials have found numerous short and long term benefits for mothers receiving the programme and their children, from improvements in parenting to improved educational outcomes for both mother and child.

The FNP Programme was introduced in England in 2007 and the FNP National Unit (FNPNU) has been commissioned by the Department of Health to support the high quality implementation of FNP in England.  This includes using and building the evidence base for FNP in England for which the FNPNU have an extensive research programme.  FNP National Unit work in collaboration with a network of partners including Dartington Social Research Unit to undertake and commission research.

An independent randomised controlled trial of the effectiveness of FNP in England has been commissioned by DH and is being conducted by Cardiff University, with first findings due to be reported in Spring 2015.

Current projects include an independent trial of the effectiveness of a group version of FNP, which is being tested in several areas of England. This is led by Professor Jacqueline Barnes at Birkbeck, University of London and funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).  The FNPNU are developing an audit tool to evaluate the FNP learning programme, as part of the ongoing assessment and quality improvement.  FNPNU also carry out focussed analyses of data collected as part of programme implementation to help understand programme delivery and outcomes and identify issues and areas for future research and development.

In 2014 FNPNU commissioned research from the Dartington Social Research Unit to evaluate the FNP Learning Programme, and a formative evaluation of the Compassionate Mind approach in FNP, a programme augmentation designed to promote positive mental health.   Previously the FNPNU has commissioned several pieces of research from a range of partners to better understand the delivery of FNP in the UK. This includes;

  • an evaluation of the first three years of FNP implementation in the UK, looking at the feasibility and transferability of the US model to the UK context
  • a scoping project to identify the appropriate eligibility criteria for FNP in the UK
  • an exploration of the effect of using interpreters on programme content delivery and therapeutic relationship
  • an exploration of workforce issues such as recruitment, retention and job satisfaction among family nurses and supervisors
  • a study of the local costs of delivering FNP in England.

Further Information on the FNP Research Programme can be found on the Family Nurse Partnership website 

Collaborating institutions

Dartington Social Research Unit

Project team

Sam Mason

Keira Lowther