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Investigation of biases in decision making concerning young mothers by health and social care professionals.

Manning, Katherine E. (2022) Investigation of biases in decision making concerning young mothers by health and social care professionals. Other thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

This study aimed to assess whether the mistrust of and perceived judgement by professionals and services reported by some young mothers, and well documented in the literature, is a valid concern and, in doing so, consider the impact that such a bias may have on care and outcomes for both the mother and child. Professionals working in health and social care saw a short vignette describing an ambiguous situation in which there may be cause for concern about the child’s development and the mother’s mental health. The age and socioeconomic status (SES) of the mother in the vignette was varied across participants, who were asked to rate their understanding of the situation in terms of their causal attributions, as well as explicit judgements about extent of concern and parenting ability. Qualitative responses regarding influential factors and appropriate next steps were also elicited. A total of 275 professionals took part. There was no evidence that young maternal age meant that professionals exhibited greater concern for the child’s welfare. However, there was some evidence that initial impressions of the mother’s parenting capacity were lower when the mother presented in the vignette was a teenager and this appeared to reflect some bias on the part of professionals. Concern for the teenage mother’s welfare was also elevated compared to her older counterparts. Disadvantaged maternal SES was associated with greater concern for the welfare of both mother and child. Overall, there was a lack of significant influence of mother’s age or SES on causal attributions, indicating that these may be of limited utility in exploring how professionals understand and make decisions about mothers and children with whom they interact. Implications of these finding are discussed in light of the influential factors identified by professionals and their suggested next steps and support plans.

Item Type: Thesis (Other)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Perinatal mental health; postnatal depression; parent infant mental health; parenting; teenage mothers; young mothers; causal attributions; healthcare decisions; health and social care; mixed methods research; vignette
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA790 Mental Health
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Health and Social Care, School of
Depositing User: Katherine Manning
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2022 10:35
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2022 10:35
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/32277

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