The Relationship of Maternal-Fetal Attachment and Health Behavior Among Pregnant Women in South Taiwan

Friday, 3 August 2012: 8:30 AM

Ling-Hua Wang, MSN, RN
School of Nursing, Saint Louis University, School of Nursing at Fooyin University in Taiwan, St. Louis, MO
Andrew C. Mills, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO

Learning Objective 1: The learners will know that pregnant women with higher levels of maternal-fetal attachment are likely to practice healthy behavior to protect the unborn child.

Learning Objective 2: The learners will be able to identify other predictors of health behaviors with clinical, research, education, and policy implications.

Purpose: Good health practices in pregnant women can positively affect their unborn children’s health by reducing risk factors.  Increasing maternal-fetal attachment may be one method to reduce poor birth outcomes.  The study examined the effect of maternal-fetal attachment on health behaviors, controlling for prenatal and maternal characteristics. The two research hypotheses were tested: (a) Pregnant women in rural areas in south Taiwan will have poorer health practices than in urban areas; (b) The level of maternal-fetal attachment will predict health behaviors of Taiwanese pregnant women.

Methods: A cross sectional research design was used. 390 pregnant women were recruited to complete four instruments including the Health Practices Questionnaire-II, Modified Maternal Fetal Attachment Scale, and prenatal and maternal characteristics questionnaires. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, factor analysis and sequential multiple and logistic regression. The health behaviors were measured globally and divided in two subscales of the Health Practices Questionnaire-II based on factor analysis.  The Modified Maternal Fetal Attachment Scale was also measured globally and divided in two subscales of based on factor analysis.

Results: The rural area did not predict health behaviors of pregnant women. However, preparing for the maternal role (as a subscale of maternal-fetal attachment) did predict health behaviors in pregnant women. Additional findings indicated that pregnant women who were older, married, at higher educational, non-poverty levels, had fewer children at home, and wanted their pregnancy were more likely to practice better health behaviors during their pregnancy. 

Conclusion:  Nurses should identify pregnant women with significant predictors of health behaviors to provide more support and health information to promote better health behaviors for pregnant women. The findings also could be used as a reference for nursing education and health policies.