Public health nurses (PHNs) in Ireland are involved with all children and their families for health screening and health education. Nurse/client relationships with vulnerable families are important, yet there is evidence that they are not participatory. Participation in the context of this study implied PHN/client consensus in relation to the needs identified and provided, in conjunction with mutual satisfaction with the level of interpersonal involvement and responses. The primary purpose of this pilot study was to determine similarities in perceptions on participation between nurses and mothers of vulnerable families (it = 44 dyads). A cross-sectional quantitative design was used to investigate the needs identified and provided, as well as satisfaction with the level of involvement and response, from the perspective of both sides of the dyad. There were more similarities than differences in perception found in the dyads, indicating participatory relationships. (C) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All tights reserved.