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Patient Educ Couns. 2014 Jan;94(1):128-33. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2013.09.021. Epub 2013 Oct 14.

Linguistic markers of emotion in mothers of sickle cell carrier infants: what are they and what do they mean?

Author information

1
Department of Family and Community Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA. Electronic address: nahmad@mcw.edu.
2
Center for Patient Care and Outcomes Research, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The objectives were to examine emotion-related language in mothers' narratives about newborn screening, and test the correlations between language and self-reported emotion and behavior.

METHODS:

Transcripts of interviews with mothers of infant sickle cell carriers were analyzed with word count software for the prevalence of emotion-related words in narratives about newborn screening. Word counts were compared to population norms for spoken language using one-sample t-tests. Anxiety-related words were correlated with self-reported anxiety and avoidance of genetic testing.

RESULTS:

187 transcripts were analyzed, in which there was a higher percentage of anxiety words (m=.38%) than population norms (m=.18%), t(186)=10.59, p<.001, CI=.16-.23. Anxiety-related word use was positively correlated with self-reported previous anxiety, rs(185)=.24, p=.001. Self-reported previous anxiety, but not word use, was correlated with mothers' avoidance of undergoing genetic testing themselves rs(152)=.25, p=.002.

CONCLUSION:

Mothers of sickle cell carrier infants reported anxiety upon learning their child's condition. Anxiety-related words in maternal narratives were correlated with their reports of past, but not present, emotions.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS:

Researchers and clinicians should use caution in assuming that word choices reflect state emotions. Self-report methods may be preferable for predicting behavioral outcomes.

KEYWORDS:

Emotion measurement; LIWC; Linguistic analysis; Newborn screening; Parental anxiety; Sickle cell carriers

PMID:
24183069
PMCID:
PMC3865165
DOI:
10.1016/j.pec.2013.09.021
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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