Influences on Mothers' Use of Clinician Help in the Infants' First Three Months


Address correspondence to Karen F. Pridham, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing, 600 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI, 53792-2455.


Abstract Factors that influenced use of physician and nurse help were explored for 49 mothers of healthy, term-born infants for two study periods in the first three months. These factors were concepts pertinent to mothers' internal working models of help use, their resources, perceived problem-solving competence, and clinical evaluation of maternal competence in use of help. Variables contributing to the frequency with which help was used and to the ratio of that help to other communal help sources differed for nurse and physician help and for the time period. For physicians, the number of infant caretaking issues a mother identified contributed to the frequency of help use in both study periods. The problem-solving help nurses gave emerged as a critical help in the second study period. The ratio of help from nurses to that from other sources was higher when mothers identified reassurance from the nurse as a critical help and, in addition, as the infant grew older, when the nurse's evaluation of the mother's use of help was more positive. In contrast, throughout the first three months, the more infant care experience a mother had, the higher the proportion of help from physicians relative to communal sources of help. The findings suggest that nurses and physicians may have complementary functions when a mother uses help.