The effects of timing, social support, and the psychobiological influences of pregnancy on dyadic adjustment in Caucasian and African-American couples

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Child and Family Studies


George Bodine


African American

Subject Categories

Family, Life Course, and Society


Socioeconomically disadvantaged Caucasian and African-American mothers and fathers, self-identified as couples, were recruited from WIC (Women, Infants, Children), hospital and health department prenatal clinics to study the effects of timing, social support, and the psychobiological influences of pregnancy on dyadic adjustment. Analyses were performed on data collected from couples in the first (Caucasian n = 56, African-American n = 15), second (Caucasian n = 42, African-American n = 11) and third (Caucasian n = 30, African-American n = 10) trimesters.

Cross-sectional analysis at each trimester revealed no significant differences between either Caucasian or African-American mothers and fathers with regard to pregnancy timing (pregnancy readiness and intendedness) and dyadic adjustment (DAS). DAS scores were consistent with previous research (e.g., Spanier, 1976 & Tomlinson, 1987).

Cross-sectional analyses of each trimester revealed significant differences between both African-American and Caucasian mothers' and fathers' perceptions of the psychobiological symptoms of pregnancy (HRS). Mothers' scores were consistently significantly lower than fathers'.

Married Caucasians had higher DAS scores than unmarrieds in the first trimester only. Marital status did not affect DAS scores of African-Americans. First and third trimester data revealed significant differences between Caucasian mothers' and fathers' perceptions of social support from partners. There were no significant differences between African-Americans' perceptions of partner, others, or total social support.

Regression analysis performed on first trimester Caucasian couple data yielded a Multiple R$\sp2$ =.30346 with HRS and social support combining to predict DAS. Regression analyses using the 42 continuing couples revealed Multiple R$\sp2$ =.18615. HRS and Social Support continued to predict DAS. Comparisons made between dropouts and couples retained revealed significant differences between DAS and HRS scores with dropouts having lower scores than retainees. Regressing first trimester data from the 42 couples revealed only HRS predictive of DAS in the first trimester. With the 30 continuing couples, no variables combined to predict DAS in the third trimester.

Each variable was analyzed using repeated measures MANOVA on Caucasian (n = 30) data. Of the variables of interest, only HRS achieved significance, revealing a gender by time interaction effect. A post hoc Scheffe' revealed significant changes over time for mothers from the first to second trimester only.


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