• pregnancy;
  • psychosocial tasks;
  • attention;
  • mental fatigue


Because childbearing women function in multiple roles, the capacity to focus or concentrate is an important resource while preparing for birth and parenting. In addition to daily tasks that require mental effort, gravidas have psychosocial demands related to pregnancy. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between the psychosocial tasks of pregnancy and the capacity to focus or direct attention. A convenience sample of 57 pregnant women in their third trimester was recruited from prenatal education classes to participate in this descriptive correlational study. After other variables thought to influence attentional functioning were considered, women experiencing the greatest conflict in psychosocial tasks had the most difficulty using directed attention and more negatively evaluated their attentional functioning. In order to empower gravidas to participate in their health care, it is important for researchers and practitioners to understand and support directed attentional functioning, an important area for nursing care and research. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Res Nurs Health 24: 194–202, 2001