Internet networks as a source of social support for women with mobility disabilities during pregnancy

Jana J. Peterson-Besse, Jessica E. Knoll, Willi Horner-Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Social support during pregnancy is important for the health of mother and baby, yet little is known about social support available to women with disabilities during pregnancy. Internet social networks are one emerging source of social support, and social networks may help connect mothers with similar disabilities. Objective: To examine the perceptions of women with mobility impairments about social support received during pregnancy from three sources: women with similar disabilities and previous pregnancy known in-person, women with similar disabilities and previous pregnancy met via online social networks, and healthcare providers. Methods: For this cross-sectional study, an online survey of women with mobility impairments examining emotional and informational social support during pregnancy was distributed through email lists, social media and snowball recruitment. Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were conducted to examine differences in social support received by source. Results: Responses from 63 eligible women were received. The majority of participants (n = 32, 51%) were connected both in-person and online to women with similar disabilities who had been pregnant, but 15 women (24%) were not connected to any women with similar disabilities who had been pregnant. Scores for informational social support from women met online were significantly higher than from women known in-person (p < .01) and from healthcare providers (p < .01). Scores for emotional social support from women met online were significantly higher than from women known in-person (p < .05). Conclusions: Interventions promoting online connections may help leverage an underutilized source of social support for women with mobility impairments seeking social support during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDisability and Health Journal
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Keywords

  • Disability
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal care
  • Social support
  • Women's health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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