SAMIN, RENA ROSEN; PHD

                         SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY, 1986
                         PSYCHOLOGY, CLINICAL (0622)

                         Social network structural characteristics (size and composition), interactive patterns (reciprocity and
                         frequency of contact) and supportive functions (perceived and actual) were assessed in a sample of 55
                         primiparous couples and 16 non-pregnant control couples according to a cross-sequential research
                         design that spanned from the first trimester of pregnancy until three months postpartum. Results were
                         examined for change over the course of the pregnancy, for differences between pregnant and
                         non-pregnant couples, as well as for sex differences between women and men. Results indicated
                         several aspects of network structure, patterns of interaction, and social support that were unique to the
                         pregnant group. In the area of network structure, overall network size of pregnant couples was found to
                         be stable over the course of the pregnancy but to decrease between the third trimester and postpartum.
                         The number of kin network members similarly decreased postpartum although the number of
                         similar-other members remained stable. The networks of control couples did not evidence these
                         changes. In addition, change was evidenced within the networks of pregnant couples regarding
                         particular kin members and types of similar others who increased or decreased in their network
                         representation over the course of the pregnancy. In the areas of network interactive patterns and
                         supportive functions, contact with network members was found to relate to perceived network
                         supportiveness for both pregnant and non-pregnant couples. However, while both of these groups
                         received equal and stable amounts of actual support from their networks and also evidenced equal and
                         stable needs for support, pregnant couples were able to reciprocate less support than were
                         non-pregnant couples. In addition, pregnant couples experienced a decrease in overall perceived
                         network supportiveness between the third trimester and postpartum, as well as changes in
                         supportiveness over time depending on which network member provided the support. In contrast, similar
                         other members were perceived as stable in their supportiveness over time. Correlations of network
                         characteristics at each trimester with postpartum parenting stress indicated several relationships among
                         these variables. Results are discussed in the light of naturally-occurring change and implications for
                         preventive interventions during the transition to first parenthood.


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