Quality of Life of New Parents Participating in a Community-based, Professionally-facilitated New Parent Support Group
Karuna, Michelle Lynn
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Background: Each year, millions of people become parents, an event ranked by many as one of the most impactful experiences in their lives. Previous studies have documented the effect of this event on new parents' quality of life (QOL). The present study seeks to assess the recovery of QOL over the first 6 months postpartum among participants in a support group for new parents. Methods: 41 parents in a Seattle-based, professionally-facilitated, new parent support group completed a validated, 26-question quality-of-life survey (World Health Organization Quality of Life-Brief, WHOQOL-BREF) at three- and/or at six months post-partum, and also completed a brief questionnaire about their peri-partum experiences. An overall QOL score and scores in four domains (physical health; psychological health; social relationships; environment) were compared at each time point. The directionality of the changes in QOL scores over time was also compared to that of a historical cohort who completed the WHOQOL-BREF one month before and two months after childbirth. Results: Of the 41 participants enrolled, 34 participants completed both the three- and the six-month postpartum questionnaires. Among these 34 participants, the only statistically significant change occurred in the QOL domain of physical health, for which the QOL score at three months was 51.0 (SD=10.9) and at six months was 55.7 (SD=10) for a mean increase of 5.4 units (95% CI 1.7, 9.2; p=0.006). Scores in all domains except social relationships increased from three to six months postpartum, but none of the remaining changes were statistically significant. The directionality of all QOL score changes in the current cohort is mirrored in the directionality of score changes in the historical cohort. Conclusions: New parent QOL changes differentially across four QOL domains in the postpartum period. This study points to areas in which further research could better elucidate both the changes themselves and the potential influence of interventions such as new parent support groups on these QOL changes.
- Health services