State of the Science: Does the Theory of Maternal Role Attainment Apply to African American Motherhood?

Authors


Address correspondence to Katherine Ferrell Fouquier, CNM, PhD, RN, University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Nursing, 2500 North State Street, Jackson, MS. E-mail: mfouquier@umc.edu

Abstract

Introduction

This article reviews the current state of knowledge of the theory of maternal role attainment (MRA) and its relevance in describing African American motherhood. EBSCOhost Research Databases that included PubMed, CINAHL plus, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, SCOPUS, and Web of Science were searched for journal articles that examined maternal identity and MRA. Keyword searches included maternal identity, maternal role attainment, becoming a mother, prenatal attachment, maternal-fetal attachment, and maternal-infant attachment. Inclusion criteria for this review were published journal articles of studies conducted in the United States, with a clear delineation of the theoretical framework of MRA. Journal articles that measured MRA among women with depression or medically fragile infants were excluded. Two hundred and twelve studies were reviewed; 25 studies, published between 1975 and 2007, met the inclusion criteria. Nine articles described the theory of MRA, 11 articles measured variables thought to influence MRA, and 6 articles described maternal-fetal attachment, a construct of MRA.

Methods

Studies were reviewed, categorized, and analyzed to determine current knowledge of how the theory of MRA describes African American motherhood. Categories included studies describing the theoretical framework of maternal identity and MRA, studies measuring key variables thought to impact MRA, and studies measuring maternal-fetal attachment and maternal-infant attachment.

Results

The studies were limited by homogenous samples of upper-middle-class white women and low-income, single, African American adolescents. Study results of MRA cannot be generalized to African American women.

Discussion

Further research is essential to identify attributes influencing MRA, specifically among larger samples of African American women with demographics similar to that of the white populations that have been included in studies thus far.

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