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Parental stress and dyadic consensus in early parenthood among mothers and fathers in Sweden

Authors

  • Margareta Widarsson ML, RN, RM,

    Doctoral Student, Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Clinical Research, Uppsala University, Västmanland County Hospital, Västerås, Sweden
    2. Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
    • Corresponding to:

      Margareta Widarsson, Centre for Clinical Research, Västmanland County Hospital, S- 721 89 Västerås, Sweden.

      E-mail: margareta.widarsson@ltv.se

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  • Gabriella Engström RN, PhD,

    Associate Professor
    1. Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL, USA
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  • Anders Berglund PhD,

    Statistician
    1. Centre for Clinical Research, Uppsala University, Västmanland County Hospital, Västerås, Sweden
    2. Department of Surgical Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden
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  • Tanja Tydén RN, RM, PhD,

    Professor
    1. Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
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  • Pranee Lundberg RN, RM, PhD

    Associate Professor
    1. Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
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Abstract

Background

Parental stress can negatively affect the parent–child relationship and reduce the well-being of the whole family. Family disagreement is associated with parental divorce and with psychological problems in children.

Aims

The aim was to examine perceived parental stress and draw comparisons among mothers and among fathers, in relation to educational level, parental experience, existence of a parental role model and sense of coherence. The aim was also to examine perceived dyadic consensus and its association with perceived parental stress within couples.

Methods

Questionnaires were completed by 320 mothers and 315 fathers at 1 week and 18 months post-partum. The Swedish Parenthood Stress Questionnaire, the Sense of Coherence Scale and the Dyadic Consensus Subscale were used.

Results

Low education, lack of a role model and poor sense of coherence promoted stress in mothers in the subareas social isolation and spouse relationship problems, while lack of a role model and poor sense of coherence promoted stress in fathers in the subarea social isolation. Furthermore, parental experiences promoted stress among mothers in the subarea incompetence while this was not seen among fathers. Mothers perceived a higher level of dyadic consensus than fathers in the items recreational activities, friends, aims and life goals, time spent together, and decisions regarding career and personal development. Household tasks was the only item where fathers perceived a higher level of dyadic consensus than mothers. Additionally, there were associations between perceived parental stress and dyadic consensus in several items and in the total score.

Conclusions

To promote parents' health and family stability, health professionals should consider factors affecting stress and stress reactions, and take gender roles into account.

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