Master's Project Title:

Acculturation a Predictor of Maternal Emotional Availability in an Intervention Sample of Foreign-born Latinas

MCH Student:

Luisa Rivera

Date of Defense:

September 17, 2015


Objective: The present study examines the effects of acculturation, operationalized as length of residence, on the maternal emotional availability of a foreign-born clinical sample of women exposed to intimate partner violence in pregnancy and treated with Perinatal Child-Parent Psychotherapy (PCPP). It examines the effect of controlling for acculturation in a previously published model of the relationship between changes in child-rearing attitudes and maternal sensitivity. It further examines the relationship between acculturation and maternal hostility. Variability by coder is explored.

Methods: This study employed secondary data analysis of a pilot study of a perinatal adaptation of Child-Parent Psychotherapy for women who experienced intimate partner violence in pregnancy. Participants were 43 foreign-born Latinas who received PCPP from their third trimester through 6 months postpartum. Participants completed measures of child-rearing attitudes (CRA) and PTSD symptoms (PTSS) at baseline and post-intervention. A 10 minute free-play interaction between mother and her six-month-old infant was coded for maternal emotional availability. The data analysis plan included multiple linear regression and bivariate correlations.

Results: Shorter length of residence in the United States predicts lower maternal sensitivity (p =.004) and greater maternal hostility (p=.001) in models that included changes in PTSS changes in CRA, maternal education, and treatment dosage. Length of residence was the sole significant predictor in each model. Bivariate correlations between length of residence and maternal emotional availability demonstrated differences between coding group.

Conclusion: Inclusion of length of residence into the regression model for maternal sensitivity increased R2adjusted from .105 to .315, as well as rendering the relationship between changes in CRA and maternal sensitivity insignificant. The importance of considering acculturation in analysis of foreign-born samples and its relation to perception of maternal emotional availability is discussed along with implications for cross-cultural MCH and parenting research.