Impact of Marital Quality and Parent-Infant Interaction on Preschool Behavior Problems

Authors

  • Karen M. Benzies R.N., M.N.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Karen M. Benzies is with the Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
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  • Margaret J. Harrison R.N., Ph.D.,

    1. Margaret J. Harrison is a Professor with the Faculty Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
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  • Joyce Magill-Evans O.T.(C.), Ph.D.

    1. Joyce Magill-Evans is an Associate Professor with the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
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Address correspondence to Karen M. Benzies, R.N., M.N., Faculty of Nursing, 3rd Floor Clinical Sciences Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2G3.

Abstract

Abstract This study examined the relationships between parent interactions with healthy term and preterm infants at 12 months of age, marital quality, family socioeconomic status, and preschool behavior problems. Eighty mothers and 74 fathers were observed in the home during an interaction with their child (Nursing Child Assessment Teaching Scale). and this group of parents completed the Dyadic Adjustment Scale questionnaire (marital quality) 12 months after the child was discharged from the hospital. Each parent completed the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory when their child was four years of age. The parent and infant interaction scores were not predictive of later child behavior problems. Maternal perceptions of marital quality at 12 months predicted the frequency (Eyberg Intensity score) and impact (Eyberg Problem score) of the child's problematic behaviors reported by mothers. Marital quality and family socioeconomic status predicted the impact of behavior problems for fathers. There were no significant differences between preterm and term children or between boys and girls in the frequency or impact of problematic behaviors. Mothers reported a significantly greater frequency of behavior problems than fathers of the same children. The implications of these findings for nurses who work with families and young children are discussed.

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