Correlates of Mothers’ Perception of Their Communities’ Social Capital: A Community-Based Study

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Psychosocial issues have been recognized as important factors in children’s health for decades. This study documents the relation among several important psychosocial variables (e.g., mothers’ depressive symptoms) and a new instrument that assesses parents’ perception of their communities’ social capital. Mothers were recruited from their children’s primary care (PC) pediatricians’ offices within the Southwestern Ohio Ambulatory Research Network or from a children’s hospital developmental clinic (DC). Mothers completed a questionnaire that included the Social Capital Scale (SCS), Children with Special Health Care Needs Screener (CSHCNS), Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory, Maternal Social Support Index and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Mothers were sorted into three subgroups based on site of recruitment (PC or DC) and results of the CSHCNS. The sample (N = 620) was also sorted into terciles based on SCS scores. Mean SCS was about 73 for each of the three subgroups. Compared to mothers in the highest SCS tercile, mothers in the lowest SCS tercile reported lower education, lower income and higher CES-D median scores. The SCS subscale “sense of belonging” had an inverse correlation with CES-D scores (r = −.248, p < 0.001). Mothers from primary care and sub-specialty clinics had similar perceptions about their communities’ social capital. Compared to mothers in the highest one third of SCS scores, mothers in the lowest one third were more likely to report less education and income as well as more depressive symptoms. A decreased sense of belonging in their communities was also correlated with more depressive symptoms. The SCS is a new useful tool for investigators and clinicians who work with children and their families.



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