Effect of Socioeconomic Adversity on Mother-Infant Interaction
thesisposted on 01.08.2021, 00:00 by Hyungkyung Kim
Mothers facing socioeconomic adversity may show suboptimal quality of mother-infant (MI) interaction, a vital factor influencing child development. However, little is known about how socioeconomic status (SES) measures reflecting socioeconomic adversity influence MI interaction because the association between socioeconomic adversity and MI interaction is complex. Therefore, this study investigated how four SES measures (income-to-needs ratio, education, marital status, and neighborhood environment) variously influenced MI interaction as well as the potential mediating and moderating roles of maternal depressive and anxiety symptoms and social support in the pathways by which those measures affected MI interaction. The cross-sectional correlational study was conducted using data from the Family Life Project; the sample consisted of 1,198 mother-infant dyads (infant mean age: 7.72 months). Structural equation modeling was employed to test the hypothesized mediation models, and PROCESS analyses and the Johnson-Neyman technique were applied to evaluate the moderating roles of social support. Findings indicated that maternal education level, marital status, and neighborhood environment had direct effects on maternal parenting behavior during MI interaction; additionally, neighborhood environment had indirect effects on infant behavior during MI interaction through the effects of maternal depressive and anxiety symptoms. Moreover, neighborhood environment showed a significant indirect effect on infant negative mood through the effects of social support. Furthermore, among all the subscales of social support (community involvement, friendship, family, and intimate relationships), only social support from intimate relationships moderated the associations among SES measures, maternal psychological well-being, and MI interaction. Specifically, social support from intimate relationships moderated the effect of single parenthood on maternal positive engagement as well as the effect of neighborhood environment on maternal anxiety symptoms. The results highlight the importance of interpersonal and contextual factors extending beyond individual-level factors in improving MI interaction for families facing socioeconomic adversity. Not only are individual-level interventions needed to enhance the quality of MI interaction, but public policies should also be implemented to improve neighborhood conditions for mothers and infants experiencing socioeconomic adversity. In development of such policies, the possibility should be considered that social support as well as neighborhood environment plays an important role in MI interaction.