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Demographic Predictors of Family Functioning and Its Change Over the First 5 Years Postpartum

Findings From the Healthy Beginnings Trial

Vivekanandarajah, Sinthu MBBS(Hons); Wen, Li Ming MD, MMed, PhD; Baur, Louise MBBS, PhD, FRACP

doi: 10.1097/FCH.0000000000000175
Original Articles

There are very few longitudinal studies examining family functioning in early childhood. This was a prospective cohort study to identify maternal sociodemographic factors associated with family functioning over the first 5 years postpartum, using data from the Healthy Beginnings Trial. Family functioning was measured using the General Functioning Subscale of the McMaster Family Assessment Device. A total of 667 first-time mothers participated, of which 369 remained at 5 years. Family functioning did not change significantly over the 5 years. Mothers being Australian born, being employed, and having a partner were predictors for healthy family functioning. Targeting support for immigrants, low-income and single-mother families may therefore improve family functioning.

The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, Australia (Dr Vivekanandarajah and Dr Baur); Health Promotion Service, Sydney Local Health District, Camperdown, Australia (Dr Wen); School of Public Health (Drs Wen and Baur) and Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health (Dr Baur), Health Promotion Unit, Sydney Local Health District; Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Australia; and School of Public Health, Fudan University, and Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Shanghai Tenth People's Hospital, Tongji University, Shanghai, China (Dr Wen).

Correspondence: Li Ming Wen, MD, MMed, PhD, Health Promotion Service, Sydney Local Health District, Level 9, King George V Bldg, Missenden Rd, Camperdown, NSW 2050, Australia (

This project is funded by the NHMRC (ID number: 393112 and 1003780). We wish to thank all the families for their participation in this study. We are very grateful to all the staff involved in Health Beginnings Trial. We also acknowledge the assistance of Ms Elizabeth Barnes for providing assistance with statistical analysis.

We had full access to all of the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

The Healthy Beginnings Trial is registered with the Australian Clinical Trial Registry (ACTRNO12607000168459).

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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