Objective Mother-child interaction, which is influenced by many factors, is important for the neurological development in preterm infants. In this study, convictions in respect of control and perception of stress were compared between mothers of preterm and term newborn infants.
Methods The convictions in respect of the control of disease and health (internally/social or fatalistic externality by KKG, Lohaus and Schmitt, 1989) were assessed in mothers of preterm (born⩽32 weeks of gestation) and term newborn infants within the first three days after delivery. The momentary perception of stress (rating scale: 0–5) and socio-demographic data were recorded.
Results Ten mothers (aged 29.2±5.9 years) of preterm infants (gestational age 29.2±2.9 weeks; birth weight 1353±349 g) participated in the study. They were compared with 101 mothers (aged 30.0±5.9 years) of term newborn infants (gestational age 40.0±1.32 weeks, birth weight 3366±442 g). Mothers of preterm infants assessed their controllability of internal disease and health as significantly lower (T = 46.1±9.6) than did mothers of term newborn infants (T = 53.0±9.6)(p<0.05). There were no differences in social or fatalistic externality.
Mothers of preterm infants had a significantly higher momentary perception of stress than did mothers of term newborn infants (2.9 versus 1.0; p<0.0001).
Conclusion Differences were found between mothers of preterm infants and those of term newborn infants with regard to their assessment of the controllability of their disease and health and their momentary perception of stress. These differences should be taken into account in the care and support of mothers of preterm infants in order to improve mother-child interaction.
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