The influence of maternal and child characteristics and paternal support on interactions of mothers and their medically fragile infants


  • This research was supported in part by R01 NR02868 from the National Institute of Nursing Research, NIH. Statistical consultation provided by Margaret Burchinal, PhD, and Michael Belyea, PhD. The authors also wish to acknowledge members of the research team: Susan Brunssen, Jennifer Daniels, Esther Tesh, Sharron Docherty, Debra Nelson, and Elizabeth Gunn.


The influences of maternal characteristics, infant characteristics, and paternal support on maternal positive involvement and developmental stimulation were examined over time in 59 mothers and their medically fragile infants using an ecological framework. Higher maternal education was associated with greater maternal positive involvement. More maternal depressive symptoms, more infant technological dependence, and lower birthweights were associated with less maternal positive involvement at 6 months but greater involvement at 12 months. Higher paternal helpfulness facilitated positive involvement in mothers with low depressive symptoms but not in those with elevated symptoms. Higher maternal education and more depressive symptoms were associated with more developmental stimulation. Thus, maternal interactive behaviors are affected by maternal, infant, and environment factors, and these effects change over time. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 30: 17–30, 2007