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Parent Education and Support PEAS

  • The PEAS Program developed and evaluated a structured education and support program directed to first time parents in the first two years of their child's life, delivered by Maternal & Child Health Nurses. Universal (aiming to reduce the number of new cases of a problem or condition) and/or secondary (aiming for early detection and management) prevention approaches were translated into a number of simple interventions targeting common problems experienced by many first time parents. Intervention topics included Cry/Fuss, Sleep, Post natal depression, Surveillance for behaviour & language, Nutrition, Consistent medical care, Breast feeding, Immunisation, Recognition of serious illness, Over the counter medication and Relationships. The Program itself consisted of MCH nurse inservice training, supported by structured resources for parents and nurses.

    493 parents in three Melbourne local government areas took part in PEAS, and 94% stayed with PEAS - through seven questionnaires to two years of age!

    Evaluation comprised seven parent-reported questionnaires over the first two years of children's lives. Evaluation suggested many positive impacts, though this was not the case for all interventions. Compared to the control group, intervention group parents reported less crying at 8 weeks, more confidence in knowing when to take their child to see a doctor at 8 months, fewer feelings of depression at 24 months, longer breast-feeding, and greater implementation of diverse nutritional practices. Formal evaluation of MCH perception of the Program indicated that MCH nurses were "very" to "extremely" satisfied with the PEAS Program overall.

    The program has provided fertile ground for more targeted developmental work around some of these issues. Subsequently, the Centre for Community Child Health (CCCH) has systematically commenced studies of primary care based intervention for sleep [ visit Infant Sleep Study], shared reading [ visit Let's Read], language promotion [ visit Let's Learn Language], prevention of toddler behaviour problems [ visit Toddlers Without Tears], and childhood overweight/obesity [ visit LEAP]. The cohort reassembled at 4 years of age as the PEAS Kids Growth Study [ visit PEAS Kids Growth Study], with a major focus on early growth and body composition change relevant to the obesity epidemic.

    We last saw the children in 2009, aged 10, and hope to re-visit them aged 13 in 2012.


    Prospective, pre/post, non-randomised evaluation trial. 


    Start: 2002
    Finish: 2008 approximate 


    State Government Department
    Community Care Division, Victorian Department of Human Services
    Evaluation made possible by an Australian Rotary Health Research Fund grant. 

    Contacts/Staff involved:

    Professor Melissa Wake


    Mitchell R, Wake M, Canterford L, Williams J. Does maternal concern about children's weight affect children's body size perception at age 6.5? - Community-based study. International Journal of Obesity 2008;32 (6):1001-1007.

    Tey C, Wake M, Campbell M, Hampton A and Williams J. The Light Time-Use Diary and preschool activity patterns: exploratory study. Int J Pediatr Obes 2(3): 167-173 (2007).

    Williams J, Wake M and Campbell M. Comparing estimates of body fat in children using published bioelectrical impedance analysis equations. Int J Pediatr Obes 2 (3): 174-179 (2007)

    Wake M, Gallagher S, Poulakis Z, Morton-Allen E, Oberklaid F. (2003). The Parent Education and Support (PEAS) Program: Final report. Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.

    Wake M, Morton-Allen E, Poulakis Z, Hiscock H, Gallagher S, Oberklaid F. Prevalence, stability and outcomes of cry-fuss and sleep problems in the first two years of life: prospective community-based study. Pediatrics 2006; 117(3):836-842.


Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

The Centre for Community Child Health is a department of The Royal Children’s Hospital and a research group of Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.