WHEP Scholar Sitara Soundararajan
Drexel University College of Medicine, Class of 2021
The relationship between maternal health and health outcome of offspring has been studied extensively. However, there is sparse data available regarding the association between overall maternal health and the health, functionality and productivity of the family unit. More specifically, measures such as family resilience in the context of maternal health are not well understood.
My study sought to determine if overall maternal health status is associated with family resilience. Descriptive and multivariable analyses were performed using the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, a nationally representative survey of parents/guardians of children ages 0-17. Results suggested that mothers with excellent or very good physical and mental health statuses have higher odds of having families that exhibit resilience, compared to mothers with poor physical and mental health.
In the majority of U.S. households, mothers are viewed as the primary caretakers and have a significant role in decision-making, promoting family cohesion, enforcing open communication and offering support for the family unit. Families that are under the guidance of mothers who are able to instill these positive family traits are more likely to function effectively and develop resilience through supportive relationships, adaptive skill-building skills and positive experiences. While previous research shows that a well-functioning family unit provides a clear advantage to families that strive to achieve a positive outcome in stressful situations, the health of mothers may have a unique role in shaping the way families respond to adversity. Thus, interventions that target both physical and mental aspects of maternal health status may better the resilience of the family unit and are encouraged to be implemented at the individual, local, and national levels.