The Role of Social Support in Helping Chinese Women With Perinatal Depressive Symptoms Cope With Family Conflict


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Abstract

PurposeTo investigate the role of social support (direct, moderating, and/or mediating effects) in mitigating the stressors (marital conflicts and/or conflicts with parents-in-law) that are associated with perinatal depressive symptoms.DesignA 3 stage (second trimester, third trimester and postpartum), prospective, longitudinal study.ParticipantsA total of 2,365 women were recruited with systematic sampling from 6 regional public hospitals in Hong Kong.Outcome MeasuresThe Interpersonal Support Evaluation List was used to measure the functional aspects of the perceived availability of social support. The women were identified as having depressive symptoms using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. Marital conflict and conflict with parents-in-law were investigated using the Dyadic Adjustment Scale and the Stryker Adjustment Checklist, respectively.ResultsSocial support was consistently found to have direct effects in the 3 stages of the perinatal period. It was also found to have a moderating effect on the relationship between antenatal depressive symptoms and marital and mother-in-law conflicts and on postnatal depressive symptoms in conflicts with father-in-law and to play a mediating role in the relationship between marital and mother-in-law conflicts and postnatal depressive symptoms.ConclusionsThese findings provide important information about the role of social support related to antenatal and postnatal depressive symptoms among the Hong Kong Chinese population.

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