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Advisory Committee Chair

Fred J Biasini

Advisory Committee Members

William W Andrews

David C Schwebel

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2010

Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Children born prematurely are at a significantly higher risk than their full-term peers for developing cognitive, behavioral, attention, and executive functioning difficulties by the time they reach school-age. Parents of children born prematurely are also at greater risk for developing symptoms of depression and stress compared to parents of full-term children. However, the literature is conflicting with respect to whether or not parental well-being remains compromised by the time the preterm child reaches school-age. Additionally, much of the research examining this relationship is conducted prior to school-age, with little research beyond these years. A primary purpose of the current study was to determine whether maternal well-being within the proposed cohort is compromised at school-age. Another main objective of this study was to examine the degree to which maternal well-being independently contributes to the preterm child's behavior, attention, and executive functioning abilities at school-age. A secondary purpose of the study was to examine whether spousal support moderates the relationship between maternal well-being and child outcomes. Results of the current study indicate that a small percentage of mothers reported compromised well-being and that maternal depression, distress, and self-efficacy were not significantly correlated with the child's birth status. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that maternal well-being did in fact independently contribute to the preterm child's internalizing problem behaviors (e.g., anxiety, thought problems, affective problems, somatic complaints/ problems) and externalizing problem behaviors (e.g., oppositional behavior, hyperactivity, aggressive behavior, conduct problems). Lastly, findings from the current study suggest that maternal marital status and birth father involvement in the child's life buffer the relationship between maternal well-being and children's withdrawn/depressed symptoms and somatic problems/complaints.

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