Online Program

Maternal Subjective Social Status, Psychological Distress and Parent-Child Relationship

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 11:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

Nicole Michelson, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Jenna Riis, MHS, Department of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore
Sara Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., Department of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
background: Perceptions of  social standing have increasingly well-documented relationships with health. Higher subjective social status (SSS) is associated with better psychological well-being among pregnant women, and mothers of newborns. The relationship between SSS and mental health among mothers of young children, however, is largely unknown. SSS may provide insight into aspects of maternal functioning that are relevant to parenting capacity. We evaluated the relationship between SSS and mental health among mothers of 5-year-old children from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.

methods: 162 mothers completed surveys that assessed sociodemographics, social support, depressive symptoms, anxiety, financial stress and parenting stress. The MacArthur Scale of Subjective Social Status, which uses  pictures of a 10-rung ladder, assessed the respondents’ social position in relation to the US (national SSS) and to their community (community SSS). Quantile regression models assessed the relationship between both ladders and the mental health outcomes separately, adjusting for maternal age, race, education, and number of children. To examine whether the SSS-health relationships differed by race, the models were also stratified by race.

findings: Community SSS was positively associated with social support (β=1.39, SE=0.37, p<.001), and negatively associated with depressive symptoms (β=-1.14, SE=0.55, p<.05). National SSS was negatively associated with financial stress (β=-0.84, SE=0.34, p<.05). Findings in the full sample were driven by more robust relationships between mental health and community SSS among African Americans.

implications: The findings suggest that perceived social standing in one’s community is associated with maternal psychological well-being. Community SSS may be particularly influential for African American mothers’ parenting.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the difference between objective socioeconomic status and subjective social status. Explain how subjective social status might contribute to maternal psychological well-being and parenting.

Keyword(s): Mental Health, Maternal and Child Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As an undergraduate student at Johns Hopkins, I have complemented my coursework with public health research to expose myself to the scientific method, and, more specifically, to investigate the role of social environments on health outcomes, an issue of considerable interest in Baltimore, Maryland. I have been studying the social determinants of maternal mental health and their subsequent effects on child cognitive development under the guidance of Dr. Sara Johnson.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.