This is a request for the renewal of the Wisconsin Maternity Leave and Health (WMLH) Project, which was originally designed to investigate the effect of maternity leave (e.g., length, return to work full- or part-time or homemaker) and other psychosocial factors (personality, attitudes, situation) on the health (physical, mental, and social) of women and their families. The proposed project aims to build on the WMLH Project by: (a) investigating the long-term effects on women's health of employment (including maternity leave) and other aspects of work and family life during the first two years postpartum; (b) extending the project to investigate the long-term effects of this early process on children (e.g., temperament, cognitive maturational status, socioemotional adjustment); and (c) investigating the complex and reciprocal dynamics between mothers' health and child and family functioning. In the WMLH Project, 570 women and 550 of their husbands/partners were recruited, during the 5th month of pregnancy, from physicians' offices and clinics in Milwaukee (80 percent) and Madison (20 percent). The women and men were interviewed separately five times: (a) during the 5th month of pregnancy; (b) 1 month after delivery; (c) 4 months after the birth; (d) 12 months after the birth; and (e) 2 years after the birth. other-infant interactions were videotaped at T3 and T4; father-infant interactions were videotaped for the Madison subsample. Sample retention has been excellent: attrition rates for mothers were 4 percent from T1 to T2 (half due to miscarriage), 1 percent from T2 to T3, 2 percent from T3 to T4. At T5, all T2 respondents were recontracted (n=547); to date, 96 percent have agreed. Response rates are similar for the men. The proposed renewal will investigate the longer-term effects on women, children, and families of the early work-health process, collecting three additional waves of data when the children are 3 1/2, 4 1/2, and 5 1/2 years. Interviews with mothers and fathers will focus on mental health (e.g., depression, anxiety); social health (e.g., marriage relationship, parent-child relationship); employment; and psychosocial factors (e.g., personality; attitudes; work/family stressors). Additional measures proposed for this extension into the preschool years (obtained from both parents, the childcare provider, and direct assessments of the children) focus on family functioning (e.g., family environment; sibling relationships), child outcomes (cognitive maturational status, socioemotional adjustment), and childcare quality. To analyze these rich, longitudinal data, a variety of multivariate statistical techniques (factor analyses, multiple repression, structural equation modeling) are used to (a) test measurement models, (b) describe relationships among variables that will serve as a basis for building longitudinal models, and (c) develop longitudinal models that clarify the avenues through which women's employment (including maternity leave), plus key psychosocial factors are linked to the health and functioning of women, children, and families. Analyses in progress focus on the work-health process during the first two years postpartum. The additional data collected in the proposed study will allow us to determine whether (a) effects found in the original WMLH Project are long-lasting through preschool; and (b) there are additional health and functioning outcomes for women, children,a nd families due to delayed effects not manifested in the first two years postpartum. This data collection is a critical step as this unique and important sample is followed longitudinally.

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National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
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Health Behavior and Prevention Review Committee (HBPR)
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University of Wisconsin Madison
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