Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Marilyn Stern


The present study examined the relationships of depression, social support, and socio-demographic factors on health behaviors of mothers with preterm infants hospitalized in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). In addition, the study also assessed the moderation effect of social support on the relationship between depression and health behaviors. Eighty-nine mothers with hospitalized infants in the central Richmond area participated in the study. Analyses found that mother’s education level and her marital status to be significantly associated with her health behaviors. Mothers with a higher level of education and those who were married, were less likely to smoke and more likely to incorporate high fiber foods in their diet. In addition, the more support a mother perceived from family and friends, the less likely she was to smoke cigarettes. Neither depression nor social support from the father was significantly related to health behaviors. This study did not find social support to be a moderator between depression and health behaviors. However, the study found direct effects of socio-demographic factors and certain types of support on health behaviors. Assessing a mother’s personal and interpersonal factors will inform clinicians of possible areas of interventions for mothers during the postpartum period.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2010