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Measuring Social Support in Pregnancy: Can It Be Simple and Meaningful?

Authors

  • Joan Webster BA,

    1. Joan Webster is Director of the Nursing & Women's Health Research Center, John Linnane is Consultant Psychiatrist, Linda M. Dibley is Clinical Nurse Consultant, Antenatal Clinic, Janis K Hinson, is Director of Social Work, Suzanne Starrenburg is Social Worker, and Janice A. Roberts is Community Health Development Officer, Royal Women's Hospital, Brisbane, Australia.
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  • John W.J. Linnane MBBS,

    1. Joan Webster is Director of the Nursing & Women's Health Research Center, John Linnane is Consultant Psychiatrist, Linda M. Dibley is Clinical Nurse Consultant, Antenatal Clinic, Janis K Hinson, is Director of Social Work, Suzanne Starrenburg is Social Worker, and Janice A. Roberts is Community Health Development Officer, Royal Women's Hospital, Brisbane, Australia.
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  • Linda M Dibley DipAppSci,

    1. Joan Webster is Director of the Nursing & Women's Health Research Center, John Linnane is Consultant Psychiatrist, Linda M. Dibley is Clinical Nurse Consultant, Antenatal Clinic, Janis K Hinson, is Director of Social Work, Suzanne Starrenburg is Social Worker, and Janice A. Roberts is Community Health Development Officer, Royal Women's Hospital, Brisbane, Australia.
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  • Janis K Hinson MSWAP,

    1. Joan Webster is Director of the Nursing & Women's Health Research Center, John Linnane is Consultant Psychiatrist, Linda M. Dibley is Clinical Nurse Consultant, Antenatal Clinic, Janis K Hinson, is Director of Social Work, Suzanne Starrenburg is Social Worker, and Janice A. Roberts is Community Health Development Officer, Royal Women's Hospital, Brisbane, Australia.
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  • Suzanne E Starrenburg BSocWk,

    1. Joan Webster is Director of the Nursing & Women's Health Research Center, John Linnane is Consultant Psychiatrist, Linda M. Dibley is Clinical Nurse Consultant, Antenatal Clinic, Janis K Hinson, is Director of Social Work, Suzanne Starrenburg is Social Worker, and Janice A. Roberts is Community Health Development Officer, Royal Women's Hospital, Brisbane, Australia.
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  • Janice A Roberts MSocWk

    1. Joan Webster is Director of the Nursing & Women's Health Research Center, John Linnane is Consultant Psychiatrist, Linda M. Dibley is Clinical Nurse Consultant, Antenatal Clinic, Janis K Hinson, is Director of Social Work, Suzanne Starrenburg is Social Worker, and Janice A. Roberts is Community Health Development Officer, Royal Women's Hospital, Brisbane, Australia.
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Address correspondence to Joan Webster, Royal Women's Hospital, Bowen Bridge Road, Herston, Queensland 4029, Australia.

Abstract

Background:It is important to determine the level of a woman's social support at the booking-in interview for prenatal care, but measurement tends to be ad hoc and nonquantifiable. The purpose of this study was to describe the Maternity Social Support Scale and the relationship between support scale ratings and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale and other health and service use outcomes.Methods:Women (n= 901) who attended the antenatal clinic at the Royal Women's Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, were asked to complete a support scale as part of their booking-in interview. Participants were contacted at 16 weeks postpartum and invited to complete a follow-up questionnaire. Relationships between the scale and study outcomes were explored using analysis of variance and chi-square tests.Results:Women with low social support in pregnancy were more likely than well-supported women to report poorer health during pregnancy (p= 0.006) and postnatally (p < 0.001), to book later for prenatal care (p= 0.000), to seek medical help more frequently (p= 0.004), and to be more depressed postnatally(p= 0.0001).Conclusion:Social support during pregnancy can be measured in a meaningful and simple way through the use of a short questionnaire administered at the prenatal booking-in visit.

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