Mother-infant interactions associated with use of health services

Research Activities, November 2012, No. 387

A woman holding a child in her arms is shown in silhouette.Increased use of hospital and urgent care may be due to poor child health and inconsistent access to care. However, it may also reflect family characteristics, such as mother-child interactions, as a new study suggests. Mothers and children typically provide each other with cues and feedback that allow each individual to either adapt their own behavior or modify the other's behavior.

A team of researchers at the University of Rochester examined the link relating interactions between mothers and their 1-year-old infants and rates of four types of child health care encounters from birth to 2 years: hospitalizations, emergency department (ED) visits, and primary care sick-child and well-child visits in a low-income population.

Better mother-child interactions, measured by a mother's responsiveness to her child, were associated with half the odds of hospitalization, 35 percent less odds of ED visits that might be prevented with appropriate primary care, and 55 percent greater odds of well-child visits. Mothers' responsiveness to their children was measured by using an 11-item subscale from the Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment survey and children's responsiveness to their mothers was measured by the 13-item subscale of the Nursing Child Assessment Satellite Training Survey.

Other characteristics measured included maternal depression, employment, social support, income, insurance, and household density. This study analyzed data from the control group of a previously conducted randomized controlled trial. Eligible participants were pregnant women with no previous children who were recruited at a regional obstetrical clinic primarily used by Medicaid-eligible women. The women were interviewed by trained observers when their child was 12 months old.

This study was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (T32 HS00034 and HS17737).

See "Mother-child interactions and the associations with child healthcare utilization in low-income urban families" by Margaret L. Holland, PhD, Byung-Kwang Yoo, PhD, Helena Temkin-Greener, PhD, and others in Maternal and Child Health 16, pp. 83-91, 2012.


Current as of November 2012
Internet Citation: Mother-infant interactions associated with use of health services: Research Activities, November 2012, No. 387. November 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.