Interactions between depressed mothers and their infants: joint attention behaviors
Maternal depression is a major health problem in the US. A growing number of studies link maternal depression to negative outcomes in infant development. However, there is little research on how nurses can help a depressed mother to interact with her child in ways that promote the child's development. This study was a first step toward establishing a nursing intervention based upon studies in nursing science which promotes healthy interactions between depressed mothers and infants, and thereby enhances beneficial development in the child.The purpose of this study was to compare the interactions of depressed mothers and their infants between 13 months and 18 months, and to the interactions of a control group of nondepressed mothers and their infants. The major variable analyzed in the interaction was joint attention. The cognitive development of the child was also measured and analyzed as an outcome of the interactions.The study was conducted by observing and coding videotaped 6-minute sessions of mother-infant play in a laboratory setting, using a coding schema developed for this study. The sample consisted of 41 mothers, and their infants who were 13 and 18 months of age. Twenty-three mothers were depressed and 18 mothers were nondepressed. The results showed there were differences in child's vocalization and child's vocal joint attention between 13 and 18 months. Also, in the total sample (the control plus depressed group) maternal vocal joint attention about and toward a female infant was more frequent than toward a male infant. In the depression group alone maternal verbal joint attention about and toward a female infant was more frequent than toward a male infant. However, maternal verbal scaffolding was not different between male and female infants. In the control group alone there were no differences in maternal vocal joint attention and maternal verbal scaffolding between boys and girls. In addition, for the total sample, there was a correlation for boys between maternal verbal joint attention and the Bayley MDI, but no correlation for girls. In the control group alone, there was a correlation between maternal vocal joint attention and the Bayley MDI for both boys and girls. However, in the depression group alone, there was no correlation between maternal verbal joint attention and the Bayley MDI for both boys and girls. There were no other differences in the variables of this study between 13 and 18 months and between depressed and nondepressed groups.
- Nursing - Seattle