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Women's Word Use in Pregnancy: Associations With Maternal Characteristics, Prenatal Stress, and Neonatal Birth Outcome


Schoch-Ruppen, Jessica; Ehlert, Ulrike; Uggowitzer, Franziska; Weymerskirch, Nadine; La Marca-Ghaemmaghami, Pearl (2018). Women's Word Use in Pregnancy: Associations With Maternal Characteristics, Prenatal Stress, and Neonatal Birth Outcome. Frontiers in Psychology, 9:1234.

Abstract

Experiencing high levels of stress during pregnancy can impair maternal well-being and fetal development. Consequently, unbiased assessment of maternal psychological state is crucial. Self-report measures are vulnerable to social desirability effects. Thus, implicit measures, such as word choice analysis, may offer an alternative. In this longitudinal online-study, 427 pregnant women described their emotional experiences in writing and additionally responded to self-report questionnaires assessing symptoms of prenatal stress and depression. The written texts were analyzed with a computerized text analysis program. After birth, 253 women provided information on birth outcome. Word use differed significantly depending on maternal socioeconomic (e.g., marital status) and pregnancy-related characteristics (e.g., parity). Prenatal stress and depressive symptoms were associated with more frequent use of negative emotion words and words of anxiety, as well as with less first-person plural, but not singular pronoun use. Negative emotion and cognitive mechanism words predicted birth outcome, while self-report measures did not. In addition to self-report measures, word choice may serve as a useful screening tool for symptoms of depression and stress in pregnant women. The findings on pronoun use may reflect women's changing experience of self-identity during the transition to motherhood.

Abstract

Experiencing high levels of stress during pregnancy can impair maternal well-being and fetal development. Consequently, unbiased assessment of maternal psychological state is crucial. Self-report measures are vulnerable to social desirability effects. Thus, implicit measures, such as word choice analysis, may offer an alternative. In this longitudinal online-study, 427 pregnant women described their emotional experiences in writing and additionally responded to self-report questionnaires assessing symptoms of prenatal stress and depression. The written texts were analyzed with a computerized text analysis program. After birth, 253 women provided information on birth outcome. Word use differed significantly depending on maternal socioeconomic (e.g., marital status) and pregnancy-related characteristics (e.g., parity). Prenatal stress and depressive symptoms were associated with more frequent use of negative emotion words and words of anxiety, as well as with less first-person plural, but not singular pronoun use. Negative emotion and cognitive mechanism words predicted birth outcome, while self-report measures did not. In addition to self-report measures, word choice may serve as a useful screening tool for symptoms of depression and stress in pregnant women. The findings on pronoun use may reflect women's changing experience of self-identity during the transition to motherhood.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > General Psychology
Language:English
Date:2018
Deposited On:11 Sep 2018 14:57
Last Modified:13 May 2020 22:20
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1664-1078
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01234
PubMed ID:30087634
Project Information:
  • : FunderSophie von Liechtenstein Foundation for Woman and Child and the Foundation Propter Homines (to UE)
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title

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