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Ambul Pediatr. 2004 Jul-Aug;4(4):316-22.

Factors associated with variations in parental social support in primary care pediatric settings.

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  • 1Division of General Pediatrics and Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 48106-1248, USA.



To examine social support (SS) among parents across sociodemographically distinct pediatric outpatient settings.


We conducted a cross-sectional, self-administered, anonymous parent survey in 3 primary care sites in a Midwestern metropolitan area: inner-city health center, urban group practice, and suburban group practice. Participants were parents of children aged 6 weeks to 36 months. The main outcome measure was overall SS as measured by a previously validated 10-item instrument. Multivariate linear regression modeling was used to examine sociodemographic and health factors associated with overall SS scores.


The study sample included 463 parents. The strongest sources of SS were a significant other or spouse and parent's parent or grandparent. The range for overall SS was 0 to 20, with a mean score of 12.1 (SD, +/-4.2). Parents with overall SS in the lowest quartile (n = 123) comprised 43% of parents at the inner-city health center compared with 23% of parents at the urban practice and 16% of parents at the suburban practice. In a multivariate model, factors associated with lower overall SS were race other than white or black, single or cohabiting marital status, poorer parental health, and parental depressive symptoms.


Although parental SS was lowest in the most socioeconomically disadvantaged community in this sample, parents in all 3 communities had widely varying levels of support. Providers may gain insights about parents at increased risk for low SS by asking about parents' own physical and mental health.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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