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Mothers’ and Fathers’ Loneliness During Pregnancy, Infancy, and Toddlerhood.

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This study aimed to confirm the social and emotional factors of the Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale (Russell, Peplau, & Cutrona, 1980) evaluating mothers’ and fathers’ loneliness and to study the stability of parents’ loneliness during pregnancy, child’s infancy, and toddlerhood. The findings of the longitudinal confirmatory factor analysis supported the hypothesized social and emotional dimensions of loneliness and indicated strong stability of loneliness during the study period. The effect of mothers´ and fathers´ stable loneliness to the socio-emotional well-being of their children is discussed.
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Development and Aging
Intercorrelations and developmental pathways of mothers’ and fathers’
loneliness during pregnancy, infancy and toddlerhood STEPS study
NIINA JUNTTILA,
1,2,3
SARI AHLQVIST-BJ
ORKROTH,
3,4
MINNA AROMAA,
3,5
P
AIVI RAUTAVA,
3,6
JORMA PIHA
3,7
and HANNELE R
AIH
A
3,4
1
Turku Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Turku, Finland
2
Department of Teacher Education, University of Turku, Finland
3
Turku Institute for Child and Youth Research, University of Turku, Finland
4
Department of Psychology, University of Turku, Finland
5
Department of Public Health, University of Turku, Finland
6
Clinical Research Centre in Turku University Hospital, University of Turku, Finland
7
Department of Child Psychiatry, University of Turku, Finland
Junttila, N., Ahlqvist-Bj
orkroth, S., Aromaa, M., Rautava, P., Piha, J. & R
aih
a, H. (2015). Intercorrelations and developmental pathways of mothersand
fathersloneliness during pregnancy, infancy and toddlerhood STEPS study. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 56,482488.
Our aim was to study the inter-correlations and developmental pathways of mothersand fatherssocial and emotional loneliness during pregnancy (20th
pregnancy week), infancy (child aged 8 months), and early childhood (child aged 18 months). Moreover, we aimed to study whether mothers and fathers
who have different developmental proles (identied by latent growth curve mixture models) differ in their experiences of marital dissatisfaction (RDAS),
social phobia (SPIN) and depression (BDI) during pregnancy. Both motherssocial and emotional loneliness and fatherssocial and emotional loneliness
were highly stable, and within individuals these loneliness factors were strongly correlated. However, the correlations between mothersloneliness
experiences and fathersloneliness experiences were weaker than expected. Separate latent growth curve groups were identied, which differed in feelings
of marital dissatisfaction, social phobia, and depression. These groupings revealed that the higher the loneliness was, the more the parents experience these
other psychosocial problems.
Key words: Social loneliness, emotional loneliness, latent growth curve mixture modeling, transition to parenthood, marital dissatisfaction, social phobia,
depressive symptoms.
Niina Junttila,Turku Institute for Advanced Studies / Centre for Learning Research,University of Turku,FIN-20014 University of Turku,Finland.
E-mail: Niina.Junttila@utu..
INTRODUCTION
Loneliness is dened as subjective feelings of being without the
type of relationships that are desired a discrepancy between
ones real and desired relationships (Rotenberg, 1999). Since
loneliness relies on ones subjective perception of unsatised
social relationships, it may be relatively independent from the
actual number of social contacts or amount of solitude. In other
words, being alone does not necessarily imply feeling lonely.
Similarly, being involved in a marital or coupled relationship does
not necessarily imply not feeling lonely.
Loneliness consists of two basic dimensions, social loneliness
and emotional loneliness (Junttila, Ahlqvist-Bj
orkroth, Aromaa
et al., 2013; Weiss, 1973). The commonly accepted denition of
social loneliness is the absence of a social network or the feeling
that one is not part of a group. Emotional loneliness, in turn,
refers to the lack of a close, intimate attachment to another
person. Based on the existing research, chronic loneliness has
serious concomitants with a persons psychosocial well-being,
such as non-active coping strategies, anxiety, social phobia,
depression, and suicide attempts/realization (Heinrich & Gullone,
2006; Junttila, 2012). Independent risk factors of loneliness
have been previously identied, including male gender, physical
health symptoms, chronic work and/or social stress, small social
networks, lack of a spousal condant, and poor-quality social
relationships (Dykstra & Fokkema, 2007).
Research on loneliness during a life span has focused mostly
on the adolescence, middle, and older ages (e.g., Rokach, 2007a).
Only a few studies have focused on womens and mens
loneliness during the transition to parenthood (e.g., Rokach,
2007b). Geller (2004) found a positive association between
mothersage and increasing loneliness during pregnancy that was
not seen in a non-pregnant group. The quality of the couple
relationship seems to be one of the predictors of loneliness during
pregnancy (Feldman, Nash & Aschenbrenner, 1983). A positive
marital (or couple) relationship offers protection against loneliness
(Hawkley, Hughes, Waite, Masi, Thisted & Cacioppo, 2008). In
terms of marital status, non-married men seem to show higher
levels of loneliness than non-married women (Pinquart, 2003).
According to Dykstra (2004), mens close social networks are
smaller compared to those of women, and men suffer from social
loneliness more than women. In addition, men without a partner
appeared to be emotionally lonelier compared to women who did
not have a partner (Dykstra & Fokkema, 2007). However, married
women were more emotionally lonely compared to married men
(Dykstra & Fokkema, 2007). With both partners, emotional
loneliness explained about 40% of the variance in marital quality
and also predicted the length of a marital relationship (Knoke,
© 2015 Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 2015, 56, 482488 DOI: 10.1111/sjop.12241
Burau & Roehrle, 2010). Rokach (2012) summarized in his
review that loneliness exists in the family context regardless of
ones marital status or family cohesion, but where familial support
is available loneliness is less frequent and easier to bear.
Many investigations have linked loneliness to anxiety and
depression (see, e.g. the review by Heinrich & Gullone, 2006).
Further, loneliness has been found to be more strongly involved
in depressive symptoms than in anxious symptoms (Chang,
Hirsch, Sanna, Jeglic & Fabian, 2011). There is evidence of an
association between emotional loneliness and anxiety as well as
social loneliness and depression (e.g., Schwab, Scalise, Ginter &
Whipple, 1998). In a large Danish cohort study of parents during
the perinatal period (Flensborg-Madsen, Tolstrup, Jelling, Sørensen
& Mortensen, 2012), the risk of admission for anxiety disorders
was signicantly associated with previous discontentedness with
partner status, loneliness, self-rated low intelligence, not feeling
part of a whole, unhappiness, low quality of life, and low
meaningfulness.
In sum, previous research has argued for the need to study
chronic loneliness, especially divided into the specic dimensions
of social and emotional loneliness (e.g. Junttila, 2012; Junttila,
et al., 2013), as well as the developmental interaction between
loneliness and other psychosocial problems, such as relationship
dissatisfaction, social phobia, and depression (e.g. Heinrich &
Gullone, 2006). Still, there is lack of research on these areas,
especially during the periods of pregnancy and early parenthood.
Therefore, we aimed to study the longitudinal developmental
pathways of mothersand fatherssocial and emotional loneliness
during these periods of life as well as whether co-existing marital
dissatisfaction, social phobia, and/or depression during pregnancy
predicts the later developmental path of social and emotional
loneliness. The study design was chosen in order to be able to
follow the longitudinal paths of both mothersand fatherssocial
and emotional loneliness and to connect these paths with their
feelings of marital satisfaction, social phobia, and depression
during pregnancy.
AIMS OF THE STUDY
Our rst aim was to analyze the inter-correlations of mothersand
fatherssocial and emotional loneliness during pregnancy (20th
pregnancy week), infancy (child aged 8 months), and early
childhood (child aged 18 months). Second, using latent growth
curve mixture modeling, we aimed to investigate whether different
developmental pathways (in terms of initial levels and growth
trends) exist among the parentssocial and emotional loneliness
during the study period, and if so, whether these groups differ in
marital dissatisfaction, social phobia, and/or depressive symptoms
self-evaluated during pregnancy.
METHOD
Participants
This study is based on data from children and their parents participating in
a longitudinal cohort, Steps to the Healthy Development and Well-being
of Children (the STEPS study), which has been described earlier in detail
(Lagstr
om, Rautava, Kaljonen et al., 2012). All mothers who delivered a
living child between January 1st 2008 and April 31st 2010 in the Hospital
District of Southwest Finland area formed the cohort population (9,811
mothers and 9,936 children). Of this cohort, a total of 1,797 mothers,
1,827 children, and 1,658 partners volunteered as participants for the
intensive follow-up group of the STEPS study. Families were recruited
during the rst trimester of pregnancy (1,387 mothers) or after delivery at
the delivery wards (410 mothers). The data for the present study was
collected using detailed questionnaires answered by mothers and fathers
during the 20th gestation week (mothers n =1,234, fathers n =1,132),
when the children were 8 months old (mothers n =1,273, fathers
n=1,194), and when the children were 18 months old (mothers n =995,
fathers n =879).
Mothersmean age was 30.8 years, 54.3% of them had their rst baby,
42.7% were living in urban area, 59.2% were married, and 22.8% had an
occupational class of at least professional. Among children 52.2% were
boys, 5.3% were born premature, and their mean Apgar-points were 9.0.
Ethical issues
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Ethics Committee of the
Hospital District of Southwest Finland have approved the STEPS Study
(2007-02-27). The parents gave written informed consent. They were
informed of their right to withdraw from the study at any point. The
description of the scientic data le is formulated according to the standards
given by the Ofce of the Data Protection Ombudsman. The data are
securely stored in computers at the Turku Institute for Child and Youth
Research (CYRI), University of Turku.
Measures
Russell, Peplau and Cutronas (1980) Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale
is widely used and has well-established reliability and validity in
different contexts (see e.g. Hojat, 1982; McWhirter, 1990; Pretorius,
1993). The scale was validated within the present research project to
consist of factors of social and emotional loneliness (Junttila et al.,
2013). The minimum score for both factors was 6 and maximum
(estimating most feelings of loneliness) 24. The Cronbachs reliability
estimates for the scale globally were 0.90 for mothers and 0.89 for
fathers within the rst measurement point, 0.90 and 0.90 for the
second point, and 0.93 and 0.92 for the third measurement point.
For separate factors the estimates were: social loneliness for mothers
0.79 / 0.80 / 0.84 and for fathers 0.77 / 0.79 / 0.81; and emo-
tional loneliness for mothers 0.78 / 0.78 / 0.84, and for fathers 0.76 /
0.78 / 0.81.
To assess parentssatisfaction in their current relationship, we used
Busby, Cristensen, Grane, and Larsons (1995) Revised Dyadic Adjustment
Scale (RDAS). The RDAS is effective in distinguishing marital satisfaction
vs. dissatisfaction (Busby et al., 1995; White, Stahmann & Furrow, 1994).
The minimum score, estimating the best possible marital satisfaction, was
14 and the maximum, estimating high dis-satisfaction, was 84. Cronbachs
alpha was 0.80 for mothers and 0.80 for fathers.
Parentssocial phobia was assessed by The Social Phobia Inventory
(SPIN) which is a self-report questionnaire for measuring fear, avoidance
behaviors, and physiological discomfort in performance or social situations
(Connor, Davidson, Churchill, Sherwood, Foa & Weisler, 2000). The SPIN
has been previously validated with Finnish data (Ranta, 2008). The
minimum score, estimating the least social phobia, was 0 and the
maximum, estimating high social phobia, was 68. Cronbachs alpha was
0.91 for mothers and 0.91 for fathers.
To assess mothersand fathersdepressive symptoms, Becks
Depression Inventory, BDI-II (Beck, Brown & Steer, 1996) was adopted.
The Finnish version of BDI-II that includes 21 items each rated on a four-
point scale was used. The sum scores of items range from 0 (no
depressive symptoms) to 63 (severe symptoms of depression). Cronbachs
alpha was 0.83 for mothers and 0.84 for fathers.
© 2015 Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Mothersand fathersloneliness 483Scand J Psychol 56 (2015)
Procedure and statistical analyses
Both mothers and fathers lled in the questionnaires at home and returned
them to the research center. Research assistants coded the answers into
data matrixes using identication codes. To explore different latent
trajectories in mothersand fatherssocial and emotional loneliness, we
used the latent growth curve mixture modeling method within the
structural equation modeling framework. The parents recruited after
deliveries were not include into these analyses. Latent growth curve
mixture modeling is a generalization of conventional growth curve
modeling that denes the average change in scores over time. The primary
purpose is to identify relatively homogeneous groups (latent classes) of
individuals using their scores on one or more observed variables measured
at different time points (Muth
en, 2001). The analyses were run in Mplus
software, version 7 (Muth
en & Muth
en, 2013). To compare the resultant
latent classes, we used the Akaike information criterion (AIC) and the
Bayesian information criterion (BIC). The AIC and BIC estimate guides to
choosing between competing statistical models such that the smaller the
value, the more parsimonious the model is indicated to be (Akaike, 1987).
Additionally, we used the entropy value (which varies between 0 and 1)
since a value closer to 1 indicates a clearer classication and the
probability estimates of cases belonging to each class (Vermunt &
Magidson, 2002; Wang & Bodner, 2007). The differences in mothersand
fathersmarital satisfaction, social phobia and depression between the
resultant latent classes were tested using ANOVAs.
RESULTS
The inter- and intra-correlations of mothersand fatherssocial
and emotional loneliness are presented in Table 1. The test-retest
reliability correlations between consecutive measurement points
were at least moderate indicating that both mothersand fathers
social and emotional loneliness were stable during the study
period. The correlations between parentssocial and emotional
loneliness were also quite strong, varying between 0.651 and
0.741. However, comparing mothersvs. fathersloneliness
within measurement points revealed only low, but statistically
signicant, correlations. For social loneliness, the concurrent
correlations were 0.218, 0.192, and 0.222. For emotional
loneliness they were 0.220, 0.207 and 0.237. For a comparison,
we calculated the correlations between mothersand fathers
marital dissatisfaction, social phobia, and depressive symptoms
during pregnancy, which were 0.581, 0.220, and 0.190
respectively.
Identication of different developmental pathways of mothers
and fathersloneliness
For the datasets of mothersand fatherssocial and emotional
loneliness, a basic latent growth curve was rst tted, and
then the mixture analysis was used to nd a suitable number
of groups. The BIC, AIC, and entropy estimates and the class
probabilities are presented in Table 2. Based on the estimates,
the three class solutions were chosen as most appropriate for
the sample (Fig. 1).
To investigate whether these three classes differed in marital
satisfaction, social phobia, and/or depressive symptoms, we
predicted the classes with these three (RDAS, SPIN, BDI)
covariate variables. The mean values for each class are presented
in Fig. 1.
Description of the three social loneliness classes
Concerning motherssocial loneliness, the largest class (78.2%;
stable non-lonely) consisted of mothers with a very low and
stable feeling of loneliness (means 8.7, 8.8, 8.8). Their marital
dissatisfaction (30.0), social phobia (7.9), and depressive
symptoms (7.3) were signicantly lower than those of the other
classes. The second class of mothers (16.8%; stable lonely) had
stable feelings of social loneliness and the highest mean scores
(14.1, 14.0, 14.0). In addition, this classs marital dissatisfaction
(34.9), social phobia (16.5), and depressive symptoms (13.8) were
higher than those in the stable non-lonely class (30.0, 7.9, 7.3);
Table 1. Correlations between and within mothersand fatherssocial and emotional loneliness during pregnancy, infancy and toddlerhood
Social loneliness Emotional loneliness
MothersFathersMothersFathers
Preg. Inf. Todd. Preg. Inf. Todd. Preg. Inf. Todd. Preg. Inf.
Motherssocial loneliness
Pregnancy
Infancy 0.710
Toddlerhood 0.657 0.729
Fatherssocial loneliness
Pregnancy 0.218 0.201 0.190
Infancy 0.185 0.192 0.173 0.693
Toddlerhood 0.176 0.149 0.222 0.633 0.724
Mothersemotional loneliness
Pregnancy 0.684 0.487 0.493 0.188 0.141 0.153
Infancy 0.576 0.688 0.593 0.158 0.157 0.147 0.666
Toddlerhood 0.561 0.617 0.741 0.198 0.177 0.219 0.653 0.745
Fathersemotional loneliness
Pregnancy 0.221 0.175 0.229 0.651 0.544 0.513 0.220 0.201 0.238
Infancy 0.158 0.168 0.161 0.516 0.708 0.542 0.169 0.207 0.199 0.650
Toddlerhood 0.179 0.172 0.225 0.463 0.579 0.741 0.185 0.197 0.237 0.613 0.674
Note: All the correlations are statistically signicant at p-level 0.01.
© 2015 Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
484 N.Junttila et al. Scand J Psychol 56 (2015)
however, the difference between them and the next, highly
increasing class was not statistically signicant. The third class of
mothers (5.0%; increasingly lonely) had highly increasing feelings
of social loneliness (means 9.4, 13.1, 16.9) during their childs
infancy and toddlerhood. This classs marital dissatisfaction
(33.7), social phobia (12.9), and depressive symptoms (10.1) were
statistically signicantly higher than those of the stable non-lonely
mothers but not statistically signicantly lower than those of the
stable lonely mothers.
Concerning fatherssocial loneliness, similarly to mothers, the
largest class (62.8%; decreasing non-lonely) consisted of fathers
with very low and even continuously decreasing (p=0.005)
feelings of loneliness (means 8.2, 8.0, 7.8). Their marital
dissatisfaction (29.0), social phobia (6.0), and depressive
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
123
mothers 5.8%, RDAS 36.0, SPIN 16.4, BDI 14.0
mothers 8.7%, RDAS 34.2, SPIN 14.1, BDI 11.7
mothers 85.5%, RDAS 30.4, SPIN 8.7, BDI 7.8
fathers 8.0%, RDAS 34.5, SPIN 20.3, BDI 12.2
fathers 32.6%, RDAS 32.2, SPIN 12.9, BDI 6.6
fathers 59.4%, RDAS 28.5, SPIN 6.0, BDI 2.9
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
123
mothers 16.8%, RDAS 34.9, SPIN 16.5, BDI 13.8
mothers 5.0%, RDAS 33.7, SPIN 12.9, BDI 10.1
mothers 78.2%, RDAS 30.0, SPIN 7.9, BDI 7.3
fathers 6.5%, RDAS 33.5, SPIN 22.4, BDI 11.6
fathers 30.5%, RDAS 31.7, SPIN 13.5, BDI 7.1
fathers 62.8%, RDAS 29.0, SPIN 6.0, BDI 3.0
Fig. 1. Latent classes of mothersand fatherssocial (on left) and emotional (on right) loneliness during pregnancy (Time 1), infancy (Time 2) and
toddlerhood (Time 3), with the class proportions and mean scores of marital dissatisfaction (RDAS), social phobia (SPIN), and depression (BDI) of
each class.
Table 2. Fit statistics for latent growth curve mixture models with one, two, three, and four classes
nof classes BIC / Change in BIC
a
AIC / Change in AIC
a
Entropy Class probabilities
b
Motherssocial loneliness 1 13306.220 13265.058 1.000 1.000
2202.288 217.723 0.831 0.874 / 0.965
379.558 94.994 0.834 0.950 / 0.831 / 0.844
435.122 50.558 0.820 0.823 / 0.847 / 0.930 / 0.827
Fatherssocial loneliness 1 11983.984 11943.331 1.000 1.000
2165.884 181.13 0.808 0.837 / 0.964
35208.627 5238.261 0.874 0.902 / 0.959 / 0.959
4 5178.484 5177.628 0.874 0.850 / 0.791 / 0.000 / 0.955
Mothersemotional loneliness 1 12643.025 12601.851 1.000 1.000
2300.091 315.531 0.930 0.908 / 0.988
33017.06 3040.832 0.918 0.980 / 0.869 / 0.90
4 2749.424 2742.315 0.861 0.942 / 0.903 / 0.822 / 0.873
Fathersemotional loneliness 1 11882.986 11842.353 1.000 1.000
2218.371 233.609 0.862 0.901 / 0.972
35052.844 5082.506 0.775 0.930 / 0.917 / 0.856
4 4978.057 4977.244 0.813 0.746 / 0.814 / 0.934 / 0.768
Notes:
a
For the models with two, three, and four classes, the estimate is presented as a change to the prior BIC or AIC. The more negative the change
value, the better the model ts the data.
b
Average latent class probabilities for most likely latent class membership.
© 2015 Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Mothersand fathersloneliness 485Scand J Psychol 56 (2015)
symptoms (3.08) were statistically signicantly lower than those
of the two other classes. The other class of fathers (30.5%;
increasing average lonely) had average and slightly increasing
(p=0.024) feelings of loneliness (means 10.9, 11.3, 11.7). Their
marital dissatisfaction (31.7), social phobia (13.5), and depressive
symptoms (7.1) were signicantly higher than those of the class
of non-lonely fathers but signicantly lower than those of the
highly lonely fathers. The third class of fathers (6.5%; increasing,
lonely) had strong and even slightly increasing (p=0.034)
feelings of social loneliness (means 14.8, 15.5, 16.3). The fathers
marital dissatisfaction (33.5), social phobia (22.4), and depressive
symptoms (11.6) were statistically signicantly higher than those
of the two other classes.
Description of the three emotional loneliness classes
Concerning mothersemotional loneliness, the largest class
(85.5%; stable non-lonely) consisted of mothers with very low
and stable feelings of emotional loneliness (means 8.2, 8.3, 8.3).
The mothersmarital dissatisfaction (30.4), social phobia (8.7),
and depressive symptoms (7.8) were signicantly lower than
those of the stable non-lonely class. The second class of mothers
(5.8%; stable lonely) had stable feelings of emotional loneliness
and the highest mean scores (14.7, 14.3, 13.9) of all mothers.
Moreover, this classs marital dissatisfaction (36.0), social phobia
(16.4), and depressive symptoms (13.9) were signicantly higher
than those of the two other classes. The third class of mothers
(8.7%; increasingly lonely) had highly increasing feelings of
emotional loneliness (means 10.0, 12.8, 15.6) during the periods
of their childs infancy and toddlerhood. This classs marital
dissatisfaction (34.2), social phobia (14.1), and depressive
symptoms (11.7) were signicantly higher than those of the stable
non-lonely class of mothers but not signicantly lower than those
of the stable lonely class of mothers.
Concerning fathersemotional loneliness, the largest class
(59.4%; decreasing,non-lonely) consisted of fathers with very
low and even slightly decreasing feelings of loneliness (means
8.2, 8.0, 7.8). This classs marital dissatisfaction (28.5), social
phobia (6.0), and depressive symptoms (2.98) were signicantly
lower than those of the two other classes. The other class of
fathers (32.6%; stable,average lonely) had stable and average
feelings of emotional loneliness (means 10.3, 10.5, 10.6). This
classs marital dissatisfaction (32.2), social phobia (12.9), and
depressive symptoms (6.6) were signicantly higher than those of
the class of stable non-lonely fathers but signicantly lower than
those of the class of highly lonely fathers.
The third class of fathers (8.0%; stable lonely) had strong and
stable feelings of emotional loneliness (means 13.9, 14.4, 14.9).
The fathersmarital dissatisfaction (34.5), social phobia (20.3), and
depressive symptoms (12.2) were signicantly higher than those of
the two other classes, except for marital dissatisfaction. There was
no signicant difference between these stable lonely and the stable,
average lonely fathers in terms of marital dissatisfaction.
DISCUSSION
The correlations between parentsself-evaluations of their social
and emotional loneliness correlated quite strongly, yet since the
amount of parents belonging to each latent classes of social and
emotional loneliness varied, these dimensions were clearly two
separate aspects of ones loneliness. The correlations between
couplesloneliness varied between 0.190 and 0.237. The level of
these is close to the levels of correlations between couplesself-
evaluated social phobia and depressive symptoms, yet much
lower than the correlation between couplesmarital dissatisfaction
which can be seen more as a shared feeling between partners.
This supports the idea that a signicant relationship per se does
not protect individuals from the feelings of loneliness (cf. Rokach,
2012).
The majority of mothers had very low and stable feelings of
loneliness. To a lesser degree, this was also true for fathers.
However 7% of fathers felt extremely high and even increasing
social loneliness, and 8% felt very high and stable emotional
loneliness.
As there was strong stability of mothersloneliness from
pregnancy to their childs toddler age, our results do not support
Gellers (2004) ndings about increase of loneliness during the
course of pregnancy. However we had only one measurement
point during pregnancy, so we cannot be sure whether there has
been a short peak in mothersloneliness during the nal period of
their pregnancy.
Although clinical experience often shows us that mothers
suffer from loneliness during the infancy period (because of
the demanding child care, lack of sleep, etc.), our results do not
support this. Mothersloneliness seemed to decrease after
childbirth, while already being relatively low during the
pregnancy. One explanation may be that becoming a mother is an
emotionally rewarding phase, during which the social network is
also widening, for example, with other families with babies. The
clinical experience is partly true when it comes to fathers: fathers
loneliness increased slightly after the childbirth and a small group
of fathers suffered from social and emotional loneliness. Because
there are only a few studies focusing on mothersand fathers
loneliness in this period of life more research is needed to conrm
our results.
We were interested in how different loneliness proles for
mothers and fathers are associated with other psychosocial
factors, specically, marital satisfaction, social phobia, and
depressive symptoms. In line with previous research (see Heinrich
& Gullone, 2006), our results indicate a strong accumulation of
social and emotional loneliness, marital dissatisfaction, social
phobia, and depressive symptoms. In general, the outcomes were
positive in the sense that the majority of the parents seemed to
cope with this major change in their lives well. However, the
lonelier the parents, the more problems they had in their couple
relationship, social functioning, and mental well-being.
The mothers belonging to the groups of increasingly socially
and emotionally lonely differed signicantly from the mothers
belonging to the stable non-lonely groups by having higher
marital dissatisfaction, more feelings of social fears and a higher
amount of depressive symptoms. This combination of risk factors
may make the mothers especially vulnerable for increasing social
and emotional loneliness during the early phase of motherhood.
During this period of adaptation to motherhood and caretaking of
the infant, the support from ones own partner and from other
women is shown to be essential (Stern, 1995). At the same time,
© 2015 Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
486 N.Junttila et al. Scand J Psychol 56 (2015)
higher marital dissatisfaction decreases support from the partner.
A higher amount of depressive symptoms and social phobia,
in turn, may lower motherscapacity to continue or initiate
new contacts outside of the home. This group of mothers
with increasing loneliness during early motherhood may also
be at risk for later severe problems with the mother-child
relationship.
The fathers who belonged in the groups of increasing social
and stable emotional loneliness had a higher amount of problems
in couple relationship, more social phobia, and depressive
symptoms than the fathers in the groups of decreasing loneliness.
This is in accordance with previous ndings. Fathershigher
levels of distress during pregnancy was related to lower marital
satisfaction, lack of adequate social network, and poor personality
functions (Boyce, Condon, Barton & Corkindale, 2007).
In conclusion, becoming a parent may increase both mothers
as well as fathersfeelings of social and emotional loneliness
and these phenomena are highly associated with lower levels of
marital satisfactions and higher levels of social phobia and
depression. Since all of these variables have found to have
negative effects on the healthy development of the child, these
phenomena should be paid more attention by maternity and child
health care clinics.
Limitations and future directions
Like always there are some limitations to this study. First, the
drop-out rate was more than two hundred mothers and fathers
during the two-year study period. Second, we now modeled only
the developmental pathways of mothersand fatherssocial and
emotional loneliness and compared these resultant latent classes
concerning their self-evaluated marital satisfaction, social phobia
and depressive symptoms during pregnancy. However, it would
have been important to model the developmental interactions
within all of these phenomena during the whole study period.
Third, the obvious outcome of parentspsychosocial well- or
ill-being during this period of life is the optimal well-being and
development of their children. Therefore, from the developmental
point of view extending the follow-up and focusing more on the
outcomes of the children is an essential task for further studies.
In particular, it would be interesting to see if the small groups
of mothers with increasing social and emotional loneliness re-
establish their satisfying social relationships and/or whether their
severe feelings of loneliness have an impact on their childs
socio-emotional development.
Based on previous research, an important mediator between
parentsmental health and a childs positive outcome seems to
be parenting (or parental) self-efcacy, dened as parents
self-referent estimations of competence in the parental role or as
parentsperceptions of their ability to positively inuence the
behavior and development of their children (Coleman & Karraker,
1998; Jones & Prinz, 2005; Junttila & Vauras, 2009; Junttila
et al., 2007; Teti & Gelfand, 1991). Based on the research on
school-aged children and their parents, we also know that a strong
predictor for both mothersand fatherspoor parental self-efcacy
is her/his own feelings of social and emotional loneliness (e.g.
Junttila et al., 2007). Therefore it would be important to follow
the developmental pathways of parentsloneliness and its effects
on and interactions with their developing parental self-efcacy
already during the early years of their childs life. Wide-ranging,
longitudinal, and multidisciplinary research on the dynamics,
interactions, and contexts of familieswell-being would provide
opportunities for early interventions.
The authors are grateful to all the families who took part in this study, the
midwives for their help in recruiting them and the whole STEPS Study
team. The main funding for the study comes from the University of Turku,
Abo Akademi University, and the Turku University Hospital. This
publication is the work of the authors and Junttila, Ahlqvist-Bj
orkroth,
Aromaa, Rautava, Piha, and R
aih
a will serve as guarantors for the
contents of this paper.
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... We identi ed an ongoing longitudinal program of research in Finland focused on mothers' and fathers' loneliness over time, and in relation to depression, socio-emotional outcomes in children, respiratory infections in children, continuity of maternity care, and family-level in uences on social competence in children. [20,21,37,39,47] Additionally, Rokach [33][34][35] published three articles about loneliness during pregnancy and motherhood, investigating the antecedents of loneliness and coping techniques found in this population. ...
... [48] His framework of loneliness was used by several authors for investigating loneliness [20,21,39,47,49], with evidence that both the social and emotional dimensions of loneliness exist in mothers and fathers. [21] De nitions of loneliness used Across studies, loneliness was generally described as a perception of quantitative or qualitative de ciencies in a person's network. ...
... [48] His framework of loneliness was used by several authors for investigating loneliness [20,21,39,47,49], with evidence that both the social and emotional dimensions of loneliness exist in mothers and fathers. [21] De nitions of loneliness used Across studies, loneliness was generally described as a perception of quantitative or qualitative de ciencies in a person's network. Most articles that used a formal de nition of loneliness had roots in this de nition, which stems from Perlman and Peplau: "the unpleasant experience that occurs when a qualitatively" (1981, pp. ...
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Background: Despite evidence that loneliness increases during times of transition, and that the incidence of loneliness is highest in young adults, loneliness during pregnancy and new parenthood has not been developed as a program of research. Because loneliness research has primarily focused on older adults and other high-risk populations, the concept of loneliness and its effects on this population are not well understood, leaving a gap in our understanding of the psychosocial needs and health risks of loneliness on pregnant people and new parents. A scoping review has been completed in order to map and synthesize the literature to date on loneliness experienced during pregnancy and the first five years of parenthood. Methods: To address the aim of this review, a wide net was cast in order to detect experiences of perinatal or parental loneliness, and/or instances where loneliness was measured in this population. Among the inclusion criteria were loneliness in people who were pregnant, who were parents in the postpartum period, or who had children aged five years or younger. A search for literature was conducted in December 2020 using nine databases: MEDLINE (Ovid), EMBASE (embase.com), SCOPUS (scopus.com), Cochrane Library including CENTRAL (Wiley), CINAHL (Ebscohost), PsycINFO (Ebscohost), Dissertations & Theses Global (ProQuest) and Sociological Abstracts (ProQuest) and the Web of Science Core Collection (Clarivate). Discussion: Perinatal and parental loneliness studies are limited and have rarely been targeted and developed through a program of research. Loneliness inquiry in this population has frequently been studied in relation to other concepts of interest (e.g., postpartum depression). Alternatively, the importance of loneliness has emerged from study participants as relevant to the research topic during qualitative inquiry. Across studies, the prevalence of loneliness ranged from 32% to 100%. Loneliness was commonly experienced alongside parenting difficulties, with parents feeling as though they were alone in their struggles. As loneliness has been called a sensitive indicator of wellbeing, we believe screening will help healthcare professionals identify common difficulties and early signs of depression experienced during pregnancy and parenthood. The protocol is available on Open Science Framework at DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/BFVPZ.
... One previous longitudinal study showed the prevalence of loneliness among mothers was between 34 and 38% [6], and it was associated with both mothers' depression and children's adjustment [6,7]. The stability of mothers' social and emotional loneliness was high from pregnancy until their child was 18 months old [8,9]. In particular, mothers with infants and toddlers are at higher risk for loneliness in Japan compared with other OECD countries. ...
... Limited studies have focused on loneliness in mothers with infants and toddlers [9,[15][16][17][18][19][20]. It has been suggested that loneliness is caused by local environmental factors [15,16]. ...
... Several independent variables were explored as being factors that were potentially related to loneliness from an ecological systems model [14]. These variables were selected based on literature reviews of previous studies [4][5][6][7][8][9][15][16][17][18][19][20][21] and 3 focused group interviews with 41 professionals or community volunteers, and 31 one-toone interviews with mothers raising children less than 3 years of age. ...
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Background Loneliness in mothers raising children under 3 years of age is a major challenge. The purpose of this study was to identify the individual, family, and community factors associated with loneliness among mothers raising children under 3 years of age with social isolation as a mediator. Methods A cross-sectional survey was conducted using anonymous self-administered questionnaires. The target population was all 649 mothers of children under 3 years of age visiting a public health center in Yokohama City and eligible for child health examinations between November 2019 and February 2020. The study measures included loneliness (10-item version of the UCLA Loneliness Scale), social isolation (Lubben Social Network Scale [LSNS-6]), demographic data, individual factors, family factors, and community factors from an ecological systems model. Social isolation was classified based on the LSNS-6 cutoff points. Multiple regression analysis was conducted to examine the association between loneliness and individual, family, and community factors with social isolation as a mediator. Results A total of 531 participants (81.8% response rate) responded, and 492 (75.8% valid response rate) were included in the analysis. Loneliness was significantly higher in the isolated group (n = 171, 34.8%) than in the non-isolated group (n = 321, 65.2%) (mean = 22.3, SD = 5.6 and mean = 17.6, SD = 4.6, respectively). Factors associated with high loneliness included individual and family factors (a high number of parenting and life concerns [β = 0.211, p < 0.01], not eating breakfast every day [β = 0.087, p < 0.05], and fewer partners’ supportive behaviors for household duties and childcare [β = − 0.240, p < 0.001]) and community factors (fewer people to consult about parenting [β = − 0.104, p < 0.01] and low community commitment [β = − 0.122, p < 0.05]) with social isolation as a mediator. Conclusion Referral to a counseling organization to alleviate worries about parenting and the creation of a child-rearing environment to enhance the recognition of the community may be considered. These findings could help develop intervention programs for the prevention or alleviation of loneliness experienced by mothers and prevent the associated health risks among mothers and child outcomes.
... One used a longitudinal design and found loneliness to be stable across pregnancy, infant and toddler years in mothers and fathers. 22 Another study found no changes in women's wellbeing, but men who became fathers became lonelier, and this effect was strongest in married parents, indicating that issues in the marriage are most likely to be the cause of increased loneliness rather than the arrival of a child. 23 However, in contrast, a further study involving data from 17 nations found lower loneliness was associated with marital status. ...
... Studies show that loneliness during parenthood is stable and may be different to loneliness experienced in other cohorts. 22,[25][26][27] However, there was a lack of conceptual studies to identify the key underlying mechanisms associated with parental loneliness, and no prospective studies that commenced in the preconception period to help understand whether and how loneliness changes over parenthood. It is plausible to assume that while parenthood may help to mitigate loneliness as there is a dependent infant to care for, there is evidence to suggest that loneliness may be exacerbated by becoming a parent. ...
Article
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Aims: Chronic loneliness is experienced by around a third of parents, but there is no comprehensive review into how, why and which parents experience loneliness. This scoping review aimed to provide insight into what is already known about parental loneliness and give directions for further applied and methodological research. Methods: Searches for peer-reviewed articles were undertaken in six databases: PsycINFO, Medline, CINAHL, Embase, Web of Science and Scopus, during May 2019 to February 2020. We searched for English studies which examined loneliness experienced during parenthood, including studies that involved parents with children under 16 years and living at home and excluding studies on pregnancy, childbirth or postbirth hospital care. Results: From 2566 studies retrieved, 133 were included for analysis. Most studies (n = 80) examined the experience of loneliness in specific groups of parents, for example, teenage parents, parents of a disabled child. Other studies examined theoretical issues (n = 6) or health and wellbeing impacts on parents (n = 16) and their offspring (n = 17). There were 14 intervention studies with parents that measured loneliness as an outcome. Insights indicate that parental loneliness may be different to loneliness experienced in other cohorts. There is evidence that parental loneliness has direct and intergenerational impacts on parent and child mental health. Some parents (e.g. with children with chronic illness or disability, immigrant or ethnic minority parents) also appear to be at increased risk of loneliness although evidence is not conclusive. Conclusion: This work has identified key gaps with further international, comparative and conceptual research needed.
... The test contains 40 items and 10 domains [18]. The loneliness experienced by the parents was examined with a Finnish version of the UCLA loneliness scale, which has been validated with Finnish data [19]. The measure includes factors of social loneliness (SC) and emotional loneliness (EM). ...
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Background Before COVID-19, the previous pandemic was caused by influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus in 2009. Identification of factors behind parental decisions to have their child vaccinated against pandemic influenza could be helpful in planning of other pandemic vaccination programmes. We investigated the association of parental socioeconomic and psychosocial factors with uptake of the pandemic influenza vaccine in children in 2009–2010. Methods This study was conducted within a prospective birth-cohort study (STEPS Study), where children born in 2008–2010 are followed from pregnancy to adulthood. Demographic and socioeconomic factors of parents were collected through questionnaires and vaccination data from electronic registers. Before and after the birth of the child, the mother’s and father’s individual and relational psychosocial well-being, i.e. depressive symptoms, dissatisfaction with the relationship, experienced social and emotional loneliness, and maternal anxiety during pregnancy, were measured by validated questionnaires (BDI-II, RDAS, PRAQ, and UCLA). Results Of 1020 children aged 6–20 months at the beginning of pandemic influenza vaccinations, 820 (80%) received and 200 (20%) did not receive the vaccine against influenza A(H1N1)pdm09. All measures of parents’ psychosocial well-being were similar between vaccinated and non-vaccinated children. Children of younger mothers had a higher risk of not receiving the influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 vaccine than children of older mothers (OR 2.59, 95% CI 1.52–4.43, for mothers < 27.7 years compared to ≥ 33.6 years of age). Children of mothers with lower educational level had an increased risk of not receiving the vaccine (OR 1.46, 95% CI 1.00–2.14). Conclusions Mother’s younger age and lower education level were associated with an increased risk for the child not to receive the 2009 pandemic influenza vaccine, but individual or relational psychosocial well-being of parents was not associated with children’s vaccination. Our findings suggest that young and poorly educated mothers should receive targeted support in order to promote children’s vaccinations during a pandemic.
... Other researchers suggest a multidimensional approach. Weiss (1973) and Junttila et al. (2013) offer two main dimensions of loneliness -social and emotional loneliness. In social loneliness, the individual experiences a lack and dissatisfaction with his social network of friends and acquaintances. ...
Article
Full-text available
Loneliness is a painful and alienating experience, which is an increasingly widespread phenomenon all over the globe. However, this phenomenon is perceived and interpreted differently in the world. The present study aims to compare the emotional, social, and romantic loneliness between Bulgarians and Russians. The two Slavic countries are historically and culturally close, but at the same time, there are many differences. Some studies have found that in the minds of both Russian and Bulgarian young people, loneliness is associated with both negative and positive aspects. This creates a common ground for the analysis and interpretation of this phenomenon in both countries. But the Russian people are more characterized by a positive-resource view of loneliness, while Bulgarian young people emphasize the negative. The study involved 608 people from Bulgaria and Russia aged 18-73 years. They completed the short version of the Social and Emotional Loneliness Scale for Adults by Di Tommaso E., Brannen C., Best L.A. (2004). The results indicated that "romantic loneliness"was108 the most pronounced and present with its frequency in the content of the overall experience of loneliness. This outlines deficits, expectations, and emotions that are realized / function / in the deeply personal world of the person, of the studied groups of adults both in Bulgaria and in Russia. In second place in terms of its representation is the "social loneliness", which stands out among the studied adults from Bulgaria according to its marginal values. In the third place as third structural-content component is the "emotional loneliness", which is especially present in the experiences of the respondents from Bulgaria in comparison with those from Russia. Statistically significant results on the factors "country", "age" and "marital status" are also discussed.
... Despite extensive loneliness research primarily addressing the elderly and/or other high-risk groups across the lifespan, parents and pregnant people, as a group, remain an underrepresented population within loneliness studies 1 , and few studies of new parents have made the examination of loneliness a primary aim (see exceptions [2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18] ). There is a gap, therefore, in our understanding of the psychosocial needs and health risks of loneliness in pregnant persons and new parents. ...
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Full-text available
Background The experience of loneliness during pregnancy and in new parenthood has not been targeted and developed as a program of research, despite evidence indicating that the incidence of loneliness is highest in those aged 16 to 24, and that loneliness rises during transitional periods. The scarcity of parenthood-loneliness inquiries leaves a gap in our understanding of new parenthood and its effects on the health and well-being of parents and their children. Here, a scoping review protocol will be presented to address this gap. The objective of this study will be to summarize the current knowledge on loneliness experienced during pregnancy and by parents during the postpartum period through the first five years of the child’s life. Methods A scoping review protocol was designed following Arksey and O’Malley’s framework. We will include all types of literature in English, including all study designs, reviews, opinion articles, dissertations, reports, books, and grey literature. To be considered for inclusion, sources should focus on loneliness in pregnant persons, postpartum people, and parents of children five years or younger. We will search the following electronic databases (from inception onwards): MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL Complete, Cochrane Library, PsycINFO, Dissertations & Theses Global, Sociological Abstracts, Scopus, and Web of Science. Grey literature will be identified searching the British governmental website gov.uk, the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, the Campaign to End Loneliness, and the British Red Cross’s Action on Loneliness websites. Two reviewers, working independently of each other, will screen the titles and abstracts of the articles returned by the searches, then screen the selected full-text articles, and extract data. A third reviewer will cast the deciding vote in case no consensus is reached. Results will be given in narrative form, mapped, and illustrated. Discussion This scoping review will capture the state of the current literature on loneliness in pregnancy and new parenthood. Results will be published in a peer-reviewed journal. We anticipate that the study will identify gaps and make recommendations for future areas of study and related interventions. The protocol is available on Open Science Framework at DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/BFVPZ.
... Despite extensive loneliness research primarily addressing the elderly and/or other high-risk groups across the lifespan, parents and pregnant people, as a group, remain an underrepresented population within loneliness studies [1], and few studies of new parents have made the examination of loneliness a primary aim (see exceptions [2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]). There is a gap, therefore, in our understanding of the psychosocial needs and health risks of loneliness in pregnant persons and new parents. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background: The experience of loneliness during pregnancy and in new parenthood has not been targeted and developed as a program of research, despite evidence indicating that the incidence of loneliness is highest in those aged 16 to 24 and that loneliness rises during transitional periods. The scarcity of parenthood-loneliness inquiries leaves a gap in our understanding of new parenthood and its effects on the health and well-being of parents and their children. Here, a scoping review protocol will be presented to address this gap. The objective of this study will be to summarize the current knowledge of loneliness experienced during pregnancy and by parents during the postpartum period through the first 5 years of the child's life. Methods: A scoping review protocol was designed following Arksey and O'Malley's framework. We will include all types of literature in English, including all study designs, reviews, opinion articles, dissertations, reports, books, and grey literature. To be considered for inclusion, sources should focus on loneliness in pregnant persons, postpartum people, and parents of children 5 years or younger. We will search the following electronic databases (from inception onwards): MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL Complete, Cochrane Library, PsycINFO, Dissertations & Theses Global, Sociological Abstracts, Scopus, and Web of Science. Grey literature will be identified searching the British governmental website gov.uk, the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, the Campaign to End Loneliness, and the British Red Cross's Action on Loneliness websites. Two reviewers, working independently of each other, will screen the titles and abstracts of the articles returned by the searches, then screen the selected full-text articles, and extract data. A third reviewer will cast the deciding vote in case no consensus is reached. Results will be given in the narrative form, mapped, and illustrated. Discussion: This scoping review will capture the state of the current literature on loneliness in pregnancy and new parenthood. Results will be published in a peer-reviewed journal. We anticipate that the study will identify gaps and make recommendations for future areas of study and related interventions. The protocol is available on Open Science Framework at DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/BFVPZ.
... Despite extensive loneliness research primarily addressing the elderly and/or other high-risk groups across the lifespan, parents and pregnant people, as a group, remain an underrepresented population within loneliness studies 1 , and few studies of new parents have made the examination of loneliness a primary aim (see exceptions [2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18] ). There is a gap, therefore, in our understanding of the psychosocial needs and health risks of loneliness in pregnant persons and new parents. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background The experience of loneliness during pregnancy and in new parenthood has not been targeted and developed as a program of research, despite evidence indicating that the incidence of loneliness is highest in those aged 16 to 24, and that loneliness rises during transitional periods. The scarcity of parenthood-loneliness inquiries leaves a gap in our understanding of new parenthood and its effects on the health and well-being of parents and their children. Here, a scoping review protocol will be presented to address this gap. The objective of this study will be to summarize the current knowledge on loneliness experienced during pregnancy and by parents during the postpartum period through the first five years of the child’s life. Methods A scoping review protocol was designed following Arksey and O’Malley’s framework. We will include all types of literature in English, including all study designs, reviews, opinion articles, dissertations, reports, books, and grey literature. To be considered for inclusion, sources should focus on loneliness in pregnant persons, postpartum people, and parents of children five years or younger. We will search the following electronic databases (from inception onwards): MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL Complete, Cochrane Library, PsycINFO, Dissertations & Theses Global, Sociological Abstracts, Scopus, and Web of Science. Grey literature will be identified searching the British governmental website gov.uk, the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, the Campaign to End Loneliness, and the British Red Cross’s Action on Loneliness websites. Two reviewers, working independently of each other, will screen the titles and abstracts of the articles returned by the searches, then screen the selected full-text articles, and extract data. A third reviewer will cast the deciding vote in case no consensus is reached. Results will be given in narrative form, mapped, and illustrated. Discussion This scoping review will capture the state of the current literature on loneliness in pregnancy and new parenthood. Results will be published in a peer-reviewed journal. We anticipate that the study will identify gaps and make recommendations for future areas of study and related interventions. The protocol is available on Open Science Framework at DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/BFVPZ.
... Loneliness Russell et al.'s (1980) Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale is widely used and has well-established reliability and validity in different contexts (see, e.g., Hojat 1982;McWhirter 1990;Pretorius 1993). The scale was validated in the Finnish context and it consists of factors of social and emotional loneliness (Junttila et al. 2013). Social loneliness is measured with six items, utilizing the absence of a social network or feelings of not belonging (e.g., "I feel shut out and excluded by others."). ...
Article
Full-text available
Our study examined the interrelations between the psychosocial well-being of parents at the time of pregnancy and the social competence of their three-year-old child. Whereas most previous studies have linked the psychosocial well-being of one parent to the social development of their child, newer research has highlighted the importance of examining the psychosocial well-being of both parents and its’ effects to the development of the child. This study used data from the Steps to the Healthy Development and Well-being of Children follow-up study (The STEPS Study, n = 1075) to examine the interrelations between the psychosocial well-being of both the mother and the father during the period of pregnancy and the social competence of their three-year-old child. The interrelations between the psychosocial well-being of one parent and the social competence of their child were studied with regression analyses, and family-level interrelations were modeled with a latent profile analysis of family-level psychosocial well-being. At the dyadic level, the poorer psychosocial well-being of one parent during the pregnancy period mostly predicted poorer social competence in their child. However, at the family level, these links were not statistically significant. The higher level of psychosocial well-being experienced by one parent seemed to protect the development of the social competence of their child. This study emphasizes the need to consider the psychosocial well-being of both parents as a factor that influences the social development of their child.
Article
Introduction: An association between a history of induced abortion and psychological well-being post-abortion has been demonstrated in recently published studies, which is contrary to the findings of existing known high-quality studies. Material and methods: An evaluation was conducted to determine whether a history of abortion affected the psychological well-being and parental self-efficacy of first-time mothers and their partners; this assessment was performed when the child was aged 18 months. Questionnaires were administered to 492 first-time mothers, 37 of whom had a history of abortion, and their partners (n = 436). Women with previous miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, and deliveries were excluded. The women were allocated to an abortion group or a comparison group, depending on each woman's abortion history obtained from medical birth registry data. Psychological well-being, which encompassed social and emotional loneliness, marital satisfaction, social phobia, and depression, was evaluated as a predictor of maternal and paternal self-efficacy within the two groups. The analysis was conducted using multi-group structural equation modeling. Results: Induced abortion was not predictive of maternal or paternal well-being or parental self-efficacy. Overall, maternal and paternal psychological well-being was predictive of parental self-efficacy when an assessment was performed, regardless of an abortion history. After testing the invariance of multi-group models, psychological well-being was similarly found to predict parental self-efficacy in both the abortion history and comparison groups. Conclusions: These findings suggest that the psychological well-being of parents is an important predictor of maternal and paternal self-efficacy during toddlerhood. Abortion history was not demonstrated to negatively impact the psychological well-being of parents with respect to their capacity for parental self-efficacy.