Training maternal and child health nurses in early relational trauma: An evaluation of the MERTIL workforce training Academic Article uri icon


  • Background

    Parents who experience relational trauma may inadvertently create contexts of care that undermine secure beginnings to life for their young children. Universal health services such as Maternal and Child Health (MCH) services offer a unique whole-of-population platform for prevention through early detection and intervention. To date however, relevant workforce training has been minimal.


    We report on an evaluation of state-wide workforce training to support MCH nurses to identify and respond to early relational trauma within parent-child dyads.


    Process and learning evaluation data were obtained at baseline (N = 1450), exit (n = 734) and follow-up (n = 651).

    Settings and participants

    Specialist training was developed and delivered to 1513 MCH staff in Victoria, Australia, via a 20-hour program of online learning and clinical skills workshops.


    At baseline, across eight measures of confidence in recognizing and responding to relational trauma, 30-49% of nurses rated their confidence as low. Significant increases in all areas of self-rated learning were found post-training. Three months post-training, gains in confidence and capability were sustained, with no significant variations by participant role or setting. Overall program satisfaction was >90%. Continuing concerns at follow-up focused on pragmatic concerns about inadequacy of referral networks and appropriate intervention pathways.


    In this evaluation of a state-wide training program for nurses working with early relational trauma, we found excellent uptake and program satisfaction, and results support learning impact and retention. Findings are discussed with regard to translation potential across early childhood settings.

publication date

  • 2020