Potential for abusive parenting by rural mothers with low-birth-weight children

Barbara Sachs, Lynne A. Hall, Melanie Lutenbacher, Mary Kay Rayens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Purpose: To describe factors influencing the potential for abusive parenting by rural mothers of low-birth-weight children (<2,500 gm). Low-birth-weight (LBW) children are at risk for child abuse. However, little is known about the added risks created for these children by rural residency. Design: Data for this descriptive and exploratory study were collected using a cross-sectional design. A convenience sample of 48 rural mothers delivering LBW children participated in 1994. Methods: In-home interviews were conducted using structured questionnaires to assess mothers' everyday stressors, depressive symptoms, social resources, and child abuse potential. Findings: The prevalence of high depressive symptoms among the mothers was 54%. Higher everyday stressors and less functional social support predicted greater depressive symptoms. Everyday stressors had a direct effect on the mothers' potential for child abuse and an indirect effect via maternal depressive symptoms. Conclusions: Rural mothers of LBW children are at risk for abusive parenting. Health care providers should pay particular attention to the mental health of mothers living in rural, isolated areas. Assistance with mobilization of community resources, including social support and child care, may provide needed help for these mothers to improve parenting and thus child health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-25
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Nursing Scholarship
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999


  • Abuse
  • LBW
  • Rural

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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