Document Type

Article

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to describe predictors of level of grief and physical symptoms in mothers during the year after a newborn death. This was undertaken to fmd better ways to help these mothers during this crisis.

Following appropriate approvals, volunteer subjects were contacted through hospitals, the Internet, and a health department. Of the 75 who responded, 77% were White and married, 64% were Christian. 51 % had other living children, 72% had had no prior pregnancy losses, 87% had support with decision-making about newborn care, and their mean age was 30 yrs. Once subjects had agreed to take Par4 the survey and consent form were sent to them.

Study outcome variables were: Total scores on the Perinatal Grief Scale, Short Version (level of grief; T oedter, Lasker, & Alhadeff. 1988) and Sickness Impact Profile 68 (level of physical symptoms; de Bruin, Buys, de Witte, & Diederiks, 1994). Predictor variables were total scores on the Personal Resources Questionnaire 85, Part U (perceived support; Brandt & Weinert, 1981); Relationship Satisfaction Questionnaire (relationship satisfaction; Olson & McCubbin, 1983); Emotion-Focused. Problem-Focused, and Mixed Coping Subscales (emotion-focused, problem-focused, and mixed coping; Lazarus & Folkman, 1988); interval since death, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gestational age, and presence of living children. Coefficient alphas for scales were all over .75.

In two stepwise-hierarchical multiple regressions, perceived support and emotion- focused coping combined to predict 43% of the variance in level of grief, and level of grief alone predicted 50% of the variance in level of physical symptoms. In written comments, mothers said they valued their role in decision-making about newborn care even with death as the result. and felt supported in that process.

Findings may be used to design intervention programs to help bereaved mothers following a newborn death. Specifically, programs can help increase perceived support for bereaved mothers, and teach new ways of coping. Both strategies may result in lower levels of grief and physical symptoms in this group of bereaved mothers.

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