Thesis

Optimism, social support and coping with miscarriage

This project was designed to examine whether individual differences in perceived social support and dispositional optimism predict coping with miscarriage. In Study 1, approximately 20 couples who had recently experienced a miscarriage were interviewed and administered measures of social support, dispositional optimism, grief (coping), helpful and unhelpful support received, and perceived severity of miscarriage relative to other types of losses. The interviews and questionnaire administration took place at three time points (between 1 and 20 days after miscarriage, 6 weeks, and 12 weeks following miscarriage). Females who more frequently mentioned their spouse as a support person were coping better at intake than females who less frequently mentioned their spouse as a support person. Additionally, spouses who scored higher in optimism were coping better at intake than spouses who scored lower in optimism. Furthermore, there were significant differences in coping between women and their partners at intake and 12-weeks. Finally, grief at intake was significantly associated with grief at 6-weeks and 12- weeks for both males and females. In Study 2, a comparison group of 42 people who had never experienced a miscarriage were interviewed to determine their perceived severity of miscarriage relative to other types of losses and the frequency that they would perform specific behaviors in an effort to provide support to someone who had experienced miscarriage. These specific support behaviors were categorized using the comparison groups' frequency rating and then compared to the miscarriage groups' perceptions of helpfulness. As expected, those behaviors that the comparison group stated they would do with high frequency, moderate frequency, and low frequency were found to be very helpful, moderately helpful, and not too helpful (respectively) by miscarriage participants.

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