Economics of maternal and child health

Economics of maternal and child health

The Maternal and Child Health group is dedicated to the economic evaluation of maternal and child health interventions, working closely with organizations interested in assessing the cost-effectiveness of their programs. The group is involved in a broad range of research areas, from: pregnancy and postnatal care; through early childhood programs; and up to programs for primary school children. Increasingly, programs in this field of research are conceptualized as community interventions, targeting multiple groups across multiple settings and our economic evaluation methods seek to match this focus of evaluation and design.

The economics of maternal and child health is led by Dr Lisa Gold and two research fellows – Ha Le and Kah-ling Sia - with the casual support of Stephen Colgan and Maura Beaton.

Current projects

  • INFANT (2007-2013): a cluster randomised controlled trial of an intervention to promote positive diet and physical activity behaviours in infants (trial in progress).
  • Let's Learn Language and Language for Learning (2007-2013): two linked randomised controlled trials of speech therapy programs to increase language outcomes at age 3 (Let's learn language) (trial complete and published) and at school entry (Language for learning) (trial in progress). For further information on this project see: These two language projects are now feeding into the Centre for Research Excellence in Childhood Language (2012-2016).
  • Families in Mind (2010-2013): a randomised controlled trial of early intervention to reduce behavioural problems in a population sample of pre-school children (trial in progress). For further information on this project see:
  • SHELF (2010-2012): a randomised controlled trial of skill-building and price incentives to promote healthy food and beverage consumption (trial in progress). For further information on this project see:
    • WEAVE (2007-2013): a randomised controlled trial of a practice-based intervention consisting of screening for intimate partner abuse, health provider education and guidelines, brief counselling and organisational changes in general practice (trial in progress).  For further information on this project see:
    • MEMORY MAESTROS (2011-2014): a randomised controlled trial nested in a population-based cross-sectional screening study of an adaptive working memory program in Grade 1 children to improve literacy and numeracy skills (trial in progress).  For further information on this project see:
    • Sleep Well Be Well (2012-2016): this is a translational, population-based randomised control trial of a brief behavioural intervention to manage sleep problems in Grade Prep children to improve psychosocial functioning (trial in development).  For information on the earlier pilot for this project see:
    • ProPrems Neuro (2012-2016): this is a follow-up study of neurodevelopmental outcomes in a population of very pre-term infants in a multi-site randomised control trial of probiotics supplementation to reduce neurodevelopmental disability (study in progress). 
  • SHOPsmart (2010-2012): a randomised controlled trial of skill-based nutrition intervention to promote healthy eating among low income women (trial in progress).
  • Baby Business (2010-2012): a randomised controlled trial of a universal intervention parenting program that aims to prevent early infant sleep and cry problems and associated parental depression (trial completed, data analysis is underway).  For further information on this project see:

Recently completed projects

Publications from current projects to date include:

  • ·          Wake M, Levickis P, Tobin S,Zens N, Law L, Gold L, Ukoumunne O, Goldfeld S, Le H, Skeat J, ReillyS. Improving outcomes of preschool language delay in the community: Protocol for the Language for Learningrandomised controlled trial. BMC 2012 (Accepted 16/06/2012).
  • ·          Hiscock H, Bayer J, Lycett K, Ukoumunne O, Shaw D, Gold L, Gerner B, Loughman A, Wake M. Preventing mental health problems in children: The Families in Mind population-based cluster randomised controlled trial. BMC Public Health (accepted 29 May 2012).
  • ·          Hegarty K, O'Doherty L, Chondros P, Valpied J, Taft A, Astbury J, Brown S, Gold L, Taket A, Feder G, Gunn J. Effect of type and severity of intimate partner violence on women's health and service use: findings from a primary care trial of women afraid of their partners. Journal of Interpersonal Violence (accepted 7 May 2012).
  • Cook F, Bayer J, Le H., F Mensah, W Cann, H Hiscock. Baby Business: a randomised controlled trial of a universal parenting program that aims to prevent early infant sleep and cry problems and associated parental depression. BMC Pediatrics 2012; 12:13.
  • Ball, Kylie, McNaughton, Sarah A., Mhurchu, Cliona Ni, Andrianopoulos, Nick, Inglis, Victoria, McNeilly, Briohny, Le, Ha ND, Leslie, Deborah, Pollard, Christina and Crawford, David. Supermarket Healthy Eating for Life (SHELf): protocol of a randomised controlled trial promoting healthy food and beverage consumption through price reduction and skill-building strategies, BMC Public Health  2011; 11 (715); 1-11.
  • Gold L, Norman R, Devine A, Feder G, Taft A, Hegarty K. Cost-effectiveness of health care interventions to address intimate partner violence: what do we know and what else should we look for? Violence Against Women 2011; 17(3): 389-403.
  • Roberts G, Quach J, Gold L, Anderson P, Rickards F, Mensah F, Ainley J, Gathercole S, Wake M. Can improving working memory prevent academic difficulties? A school based randomised controlled trial. BMC Pediatrics 2011; 11:57.
  • Wake M, Tobin S, Girolametto L, Ukoumunne O, Gold L, Levickis P, Sheehan J, Goldfeld S, Reilly S. Outcomes of population-based language prevention for slow-to-talk toddlers at ages 2 and 3 years: The Let's Learn Language cluster randomised controlled trial. British Medical Journal 2011; 343:d4741. (PICO summary BMJ 2011; 343:460).
  • Sheehan J, Girolametto L, Reilly S, Ukoumunne O, Price A, Gold L, Weitzman E, Wake M. Feasibility of a language promotion program for toddlers at risk. Early Childhood Services 2009; 3(1):33-50.

Recent or forthcoming publications from completed projects include:

  • Block K, Gibbs L, Staiger P, Gold L, Macfarlane S, Johnson B, Townsend M, Long C. Growing community: the impact of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program on the social and learning environment in primary schools. Health Education and Behavior (accepted 2 August 2011).
  • ·          McLachlan H, Forster D, Davey M-A, Farrell T, Gold L, Biro MA, Albers L, Flood M, Oats J, Waldenström U. Effects of continuity of care by a primary midwife (caseload midwifery) on caesarean rates in women of low obstetric risk: the COSMOS randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (accepted 18 May 2012).
  • Colgan S, Gold L, Wirth K, Ching T, Poulakis Z, Rickards F, Wake M. The cost-effectiveness of universal newborn screening for permanent congenital hearing impairment: Systematic review. Academic Pediatrics 2012; 12(3): 171-180.
  • Gibbs L, Waters E, St Leger L, Green J, Gold L, Swinburn B. A settings-based theoretical framework for obesity prevention community interventions and research. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 2011; 35(2): 104-106.

For all publications from earlier, completed projects please see the research output pages of the staff members of the Maternal and Child Health Economics team.

Stream Coordinator: Dr Lisa Gold, Senior Research Fellow,

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