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Learned Resourcefulness, Social Support, and Perinatal Depression in Chinese Mothers

Ngai, Fei-Wan; Chan, Sally Wai-Chi

doi: 10.1097/NNR.0b013e318240dd3f
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Background: Postnatal depression is a major health problem that can have detrimental effects on infants’ psychosocial development; however, there are few longitudinal studies on the protective role of learned resourcefulness against the development of postnatal depression.

Objectives: The aims of this study were to examine the relationships among learned resourcefulness, social support, stress, and depressive symptoms across the perinatal period and to determine the mediating role of learned resourcefulness and social support between stress and depressive symptoms in the perinatal period.

Methods: A longitudinal design was used. A convenience sample of 170 first-time Chinese mothers completed the assessment during pregnancy and were followed up at 6 weeks and 6 months postpartum. The Self-Control Schedule, Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey, Social Readjustment Rating Scale, and Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale were used. Path analysis was employed.

Results: Learned resourcefulness had a direct impact on depressive symptoms and mediated the effect of stress on depressive symptoms during pregnancy and at 6 weeks postpartum. Social support had a direct impact on depressive symptoms and mediated the effect of stress on depressive symptoms during pregnancy. Learned resourcefulness and social support directly predicted depressive symptoms at 6 months postpartum.

Discussion: Learned resourcefulness and social support serve to protect against the development of depressive symptoms and mediate the relationship between stress and depressive symptoms in the perinatal period. Culturally competent healthcare should be developed to equip women with learned resourcefulness skills and foster support network to combat the stress of new motherhood, thereby minimizing the risk of perinatal depression.

Fei-Wan Ngai, PhD, RM, RN, is Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, The Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam.

Sally Wai-Chi Chan, PhD, RMN, is Professor, Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore.

Accepted for publication November 7, 2011.

Thank you to all the mothers who participated in the study.

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Corresponding author: Fei-Wan Ngai, PhD, RM, RN, School of Nursing, The Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Room 417, 4/F, William M W Mong Block, 21 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong (e-mail: fwngai@hku.hk).

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