Person and environmental factors as predictors of cognitive appraisal and state anxiety in primiparas
For most women, the transition to parenthood is a time of considerable lifestyle and role changes. This time may be particularly anxiety provoking for women who intend to engage in both career and parenting. Studies indicate that prenatal stress can cause a variety of birth complications including low birth weight and pre-term delivery (Da Costa et al., 1999). In fact, women who report increased stress levels during pregnancy are one and a half times more likely to deliver pre-term (e.g., Ochs, 2001). Due to the variance in prenatal stress and anxiety reported in primiparas, as well as the potential for adverse outcomes as a result of heightened levels of these emotions, individual differences affecting appraisal need to be better understood in order to help predict which individuals may be especially vulnerable. This study recruited participants who were in the third trimester of pregnancy with their first child, and planning on returning to work after giving birth. Participants completed surveys measuring beliefs about the consequences of maternal employment for children, life role salience, satisfaction with social support, optimism, anxiety, and stress appraisal. Results of a correlational analysis indicated that optimism and challenge appraisals were negatively correlated with state anxiety and threat and satisfaction with social support was positively correlated with state anxiety. Optimism, satisfaction with social support, and beliefs about the consequences of maternal employment for children predicted 19% of the variance in state anxiety. Parental/homemaker salience and income did not predict additional variance in state anxiety. The primary contribution of this study was a better understanding of the variables that may lead to increased stress in primiparas.
Sullivan, Lisa Worden, "Person and environmental factors as predictors of cognitive appraisal and state anxiety in primiparas" (2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3213393.