A research agenda to transform the field of early relational health

Dear NSP family,

Last month, I announced the launch of Nurture Connection, which brings together a diverse team of parent advocates, pediatric care providers, researchers, early childhood development experts, funders, and policy professionals to advance the field of early relational health (ERH) in a relational way. Today, I am excited to share the research strategy we’re developing as part of this effort.

Though there is compelling evidence that early relational health is vital for a child’s development and wellbeing, the field of implementation research into best practices for the observation and promotion of ERH is not well developed. Our team’s recent meta-analysis revealed that existing interventions haven’t shown lasting effects on ERH, or improved secondary child outcomes. In December, 2022, my Reach Out and Read colleague Nikki Shearman and I convened the ERH Learning Community to design a research agenda and codify a way forward. 

We’re committed to creating a novel, iterative, collaborative research model that centers parents’ voices by: integrating parents, families, and practitioners into every stage of the development and evaluation process; utilizing large-scale, longitudinal data; using the robust design of our COMBO protocol as a starting point but committing to evolving this protocol in collaboration with the entire ERH field; and reaching families and practitioners through ROR’s extensive network of clinics and clinicians. Through this approach, the ERH Learning Community hopes to develop the practical tools to promote strong, positive relationships, and strategies to scale them for significant population and next-generation impacts. 

You can read more about the ERH Learning Community here, in a joint post from me and Nikki Shearman.

More news coming soon about Nurture Connection’s first joint initiative in pediatrics!