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  • Parenting and family support

    Parent and child

The Parenting Research Group focuses on promoting parenting and parenting self-efficacy through the use of health visiting and children’s centre services delivered in the home and community settings.

Our work aims to develop an understanding of how parenting support programmes work and the development of the service systems which can provide sufficiently seamless health and social care services relevant to different parent and family situations.

We have been working closely with Kings College and colleagues in the National Nursing Research Unit (NNRU) involved in leading the health visitor Policy Research Programme, commissioned to support the Department of Health (2011) Call for Action.

Expertise and Subject Areas

Our team of researchers and doctoral students focuses on:

  • Understanding of how parenting support programmes work
  • The development of the service systems which can provide sufficiently seamless health and social care services relevant to different parent and family situations
  • The role of the health visitor in supporting families
  • Our methodological expertise lies in the application of realistic evaluation (context, mechanism and outcome) framework for understanding service situations.

Impact

Through our reputation for undertaking high quality research work, developing a high profile within the practice setting and our strong networks we are able to influence practice for example:

  • Implementation of findings from our work on the Early Start Home Visiting programme within Blackburn with Darwen.
  • Early intervention health visiting studies which provided fresh insights in whole system working for accident prevention and family support.
  • Transferability of a model for home accident prevention within a child and family service to a comprehensive fall prevention programme for older people.

Publications and outputs

Articles

  • Cowley, Sarah, Whittaker, Karen, Malone, Mary, Donetto, Sara, Grigulis, Astrida and Maben, Jill (2015) Why health visiting? Examining the potential public health benefits from health visiting practice within a universal service: A narrative review of the literature. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 52 (1). pp. 465-480. ISSN 00207489 
  • Cowley, Sarah, Whittaker, Karen, Malone, Mary, Donetto, Sara, Grigulis, Astrida and Maben, Jill (2014) Why health visiting? Examining the potential public health benefits from health visiting practice within a universal service: A narrative review of the literature. International Journal of Nursing Studies . ISSN 00207489 (In Press) Item availability may be restricted. 
  • Whittaker, Karen, Cox, Pat, Thomas, Nigel Patrick and Cocker, Karen (2014) A qualitative study of parents' experiences using family support services: applying the concept of surface and depth. Health & Social Care in the Community, 22 (5). pp. 479-487. ISSN 09660410 Item not available from this repository.
  • Power T., Jackson D., Carter B. & Weaver R. (2014) Misunderstood as mothers: women's stories of being hospitalized for illness in the postpartum period. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 71(2): 370-380.
  • Carter, B., Hunt, A., Edwards, M. (2014) ‘Being a presence’: the ways in which Family Support Workers encompass, embrace, befriend, accompany and endure with families of life-limited children. Journal of Child Health Care. SSN: 1741-2889, PMID: 24459101, IF:0.970; Citations 1
  • Flynn, A., Carter, B., Bray, L., Donne, A. (2013) Parents' experiences and views of caring for a child with a tracheostomy: a literature review. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology. 77(10) 1630-1634.IF: 1.319; Citations 1
  • Please add at the top of Editorials
  • Carter, B. (2015) ‘If you see something, say something’: Reducing the incidence of deterioration in children Journal of Child Health Care. 19(2): 133-135.
  • Carter, B. (2014) Parenting a sick child: Challenge and resilience. Journal of Child Health Care 18(2):99-100. DOI: 10.1177/1367493514535332
  • Whittaker, K. & Carter, B. (2013) Modernising health visiting practice whilst keeping compassion in care. Journal of Child Health Care. 17(2):111-113, doi:10.1177/1367493513492902

  • Whittaker, K. & Cowley,S. (2012) A survey of parental self-efficacy experiences: maximising potential through health visiting and universal parenting support. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 21 : 3276-86.
  • Whittaker, K. A. & Cowley, S. (2010). An effective programme is not enough: a review of factors associated with poor attendance and engagement with parenting support programmes. Children & Society, Mar; 26 (2): 138-49
  • Whittaker,K.A. K.A Sutton, C.J. Burton, C.R. (2006) Pragmatic randomised controlled trials in parenting research: the issue of intention to treat. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 60(10):858-864
  • Whittaker K. Cowley S. (2006) Evaluating health visitor parenting support: validating outcome measures for parental self-efficacy. Journal of Child Health Care 10(4): 296-308
  • Whittaker, K Taylor, J. (2004) Learning from the experience of working with consumers in educational developments. Nurse Education Today 24(7):530-537.
  • Whittaker K. Cowley S. (2003) Parenting Support: where does it fit with public health roles. Community Practitioner. 76(3):100-103.
  • Carey, L. Whittaker, K. (2002) Students’ experiences of problem-based learning: issues for community specialist practitioner students. Nurse Education Today. 22:661-668.
  • Whittaker K. (2002) Lay workers for improving the uptake of childhood immunization. British Journal of Community Nursing. 7(9):474-479.
  • Whittaker K. A. Cornthwaite, S. (2000) Benefits for all: outcomes from a positive parenting evaluation study. Clinical Effectiveness in Nursing. 4(4):189-197.

Books/Book Chapters

  • Bidmead, C. Whittaker, K. (2008) Parent and Family Support: a public health issue. Ch. 4, pp 68-107. In Cowley, S. (ed) Public Health in Policy and Practice. Edinburgh, Elsevier Ltd.
  • Whittaker, K. Bidmead, C. Cowley, S. Adams, C. (2004) A professional submission, on behalf of the CPHVA, to NICE for the appraisal of the clinical and cost effectiveness of parent-training/educational programmes for the treatment of conduct disorders in children. Report written for submission to the NICE appraisal committee. London, CPHVA.
  • Bidmead, C. Whittaker, K. (2004) Positive Parenting a Public Health Priority. London, CPHVA Books.

Published Abstracts

  • Whittaker K. Cowley S. (2004) The Real World of Realistic Evaluation RCN Annual International Nursing Research Conference 21st-24th March 2004, Cambridge.
  • Whittaker K. Taylor J. (2002) Involving consumers of health care in educational decision making. Core theme paper at Nurse Education Tomorrow 2000, 11 Annual International Participative Conference. 3rd-5th Sept 2002, Durham.
  • Whittaker K (2002) The Solihull Approach Resource Pack. Journal of Child Health Care. 6(3):222-223.
  • Whittaker K. Carey L. (2000) Students experiences of problem-based learning: Is pain essential for gain? Published core paper at Nurse Education Tomorrow 2000, 11 Annual International Participative Conference. 5th-7th Sept 2000, Durham.

Courses and Postgraduate Study

Our research is directly fed into teaching content for a range of modules. These include: 

  • NU3078 and NU4078 Public health in Specialist Community Public Health Practice
  • NU3239 and NU4239 The context of health visitor practice

Members

Dr Karen Whittaker: Senior Lecturer

Karen has recently been working with a team of researchers at King’s College, London, in the National Nursing Research Unit (NNRU) to contribute to a programme of health visitor research. She completed her doctoral study at King’s College, supported by a DH Research Training Fellowship Award. Her thesis was a realistic evaluation of how experience the process of formal parenting support. With a professional background in health visiting she continues to research the topic of parenting and the ways in which services can be designed to support family needs.

Professor Bernie Carter: Professor of Children’s Nursing

Bernie has been based at the University of Central Lancashire since 2000. Bernie is Professor of Children’s Nursing at the University of Central Lancashire and Director of the Children’s Nursing Research Unit (CNRU) at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing. She is Visiting Professor at Edge Hill University and Clinical Professor at the University of Tasmania

Links

We have links with colleagues in the School of Social Work, UCLan (examining parents’ experience of family support in the community) and the School of Computing, Engineering & Physical Sciences, UCLan (developing an interactive DVD for parents and adolescents).

We have links with the NNRU research team delivering a programme of health visitor research aligned to the England, Department of Health (2011) Health Visitor Implementation plan.

We along with practice colleagues we have been working with Professor Lynn Kemp, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, to explore the feasibility of implementing and testing the Maternal and Early Childhood Sustained Home visiting (MECSH) programme as part of health visitor provision in the UK.

Additional Information

For further information contact:

Dr Karen Whittaker
School of Health
University of Central Lancashire
Preston PR1 2HE
Kwhittaker1@uclan.ac.uk

Related Projects

Current projects

Whittaker has recently been working with Maben et al. at King’s College, on a review of evidence for health visiting practice and an empirical study of health visitor recruitment and retention. Start and Stay: the recruitment and retention of health visitors. The first report is now published and available as follows:

Cowley S, Whittaker K A, Grigulis A, Malone M, Donetto S, Wood H, Morrow E, Maben J (2013) Why Health Visiting? A review of the literature about key health visitor interventions, processes and outcomes for children and families. Department of Health Policy Research Programme. King's College, London: National Nursing Research Unit.

Selected completed projects:

  • Whittaker et al. Transferring Accident Prevention Experiences (TAPE) Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with East Lancashire NHS. Read the project reports from August 2010 and October 2011.
  • Whittaker et al. BwD Early Start Programme: an evaluation partnership. NHS Blackburn with Darwen (BwD).
  • Whittaker et al. An exploration of parenting self-efficacy and social living experiences for those participating with a positive parenting service.
  • NHSE North West R & D Training Fellowship award.
  • Whittaker et al: An Intensive Parenting Support Service: a review of parent’s views. Local authority funding.
  • Whittaker et al: Adolescent & Parent Experiences (APE) Parenting Media Study.
  • UCLan funded internship.