Three theories that guide Nurse-Family Partnership

Since the Nurse-Family Partnership concept had its first trial in 1977 with families in Elmira, N.Y., three ideas have been the foundation for the program. Even today, the practices are built on these key theories.


The belief that a woman can succeed in her goals and accomplish the tasks before her is the very definition of self-efficacy. For moms in the Nurse-Family Partnership program, the sense of self-efficacy is vital to building a strong, healthy family. The nurse plays a crucial role in guiding mothers to realize their potential and achieve a strong sense of self-efficacy to carry them confidently into the future.

Human Ecology

The nurses working at Nurse-Family Partnership recognize that many factors influence the lives of young mothers and their babies. They study the relationships and circumstances that affect them, including the mother’s relationship with her partner, family members and other important people in her life, and even the dynamic in the neighborhood where she lives. With an awareness of human ecology, nurses can help young women navigate the challenges that arise in their new role as moms.


Babies are biologically programmed to form attachments, and a strong emotional and physical attachment to at least one primary caregiver is critical to a child’s development. Nurse-Family Partnership nurses teach first-time moms techniques to promote this vital nurturing, and they model the skill through the supportive and caring relationships they develop with the moms and their babies.

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