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  • ItemOpen Access
    Infant exploration and childhood action planning in children with Down syndrome
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Van Deusen, Kaylyn, author; Fidler, Deborah, advisor; Daunhauer, Lisa, committee member; Prince, Mark, committee member
    Children with Down syndrome (DS) are predisposed to delays across domains of development and there is a dearth of information on longitudinal associations across early childhood that would help to characterize skill acquisition. Executive functions (EFs) are the thinking and problem-solving skills that direct behavior to achieve goals. Planning is a subconstruct of EF that is an area of relative challenge for children with DS in middle childhood and adolescence. This investigation examined the foundations of planning in DS between infant exploration behavior and emerging childhood planning. METHODS: Forty-six children with DS and their parents participated in two waves of data collection. Infants' first visit was held between 9 and 17 months (M = 12.76 months; SD = 2.16) for Wave 1 and the second research visit was when children were 3 to 7 years old (M = 5.03 years; SD = 0.80) for Wave 2. RESULTS: No significant predictive link was found between infant exploration and early childhood planning. No significant findings emerged between biomedical status and childhood planning. CONCLUSION: Results of this investigation did not identify a predictive link between infancy and early childhood planning. The current study was among the first longitudinal analyses examining development in early childhood for children with DS. Future work should further characterize the heterogeneity observed in children with DS to tailor intervention supports to emerging planning skills.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Parent perspectives of at-home cognitive intervention for preschoolers with Down syndrome
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Walsh, Madison M., author; Fidler, Deborah, advisor; Hepburn, Susan, committee member; Yoder, Jamie, committee member
    Down syndrome (DS) is associated with challenges related to cognitive skills, including executive function (EF). Intervention provided during early childhood can support the development of EF, however there are few cognitive interventions designed for young developmental ages. Parent-mediated interventions (PMIs) are emerging as an effective and scalable intervention approach for clinical populations. PMIs require ongoing parent engagement, and therefore, it is critical for a PMI to meet the needs of its intended users. This study used a community-based participatory research (CBPR) framework to (1) understand the daily routines of families of young children with DS and (2) describe parent perceptions of participating in at-home intervention. Participants were 34 caregivers of children 3 – 6 years old with DS living in Italy or the US. Participants responded to questions related to daily tasks they help their children complete and their perceptions of at-home cognitive intervention. Interviews were transcribed and independently coded (inter-rater agreement = .80). Four themes related to daily routines were identified: what parents help with, how parents help, why parents help, and how children respond. Three themes related to parent perceptions of interventions were identified: advantages of parent-led interventions, disadvantages of parent-led interventions, and desires for interventions. Findings suggest that PMIs targeting preschool-aged children with DS should require a short time commitment, blend intervention activities into daily routines, and include other family members. Findings from this study have important implications for the development of novel interventions aimed at supporting families in this population.
  • ItemEmbargo
    Ecological momentary assessment of mechanisms of change during a mindfulness-based intervention for adolescents exposed to chronic stressors
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Miller, Reagan L., author; Lucas-Thompson, Rachel, advisor; Shomaker, Lauren, advisor; Haddock, Shelley, committee member; Prince, Mark, committee member
    Adolescents exposed to chronic stressors (e.g., financial instability) are at heightened risk for developing mental health problems. Chronic stressors may contribute to greater mental health problems by interfering with adolescents' ability to effectively regulate emotions. According to the mindfulness stress buffering hypothesis, mindfulness acts as a buffer against the deleterious effects of life stressors by ameliorating maladaptive stress appraisals and by improving emotion regulation. However, an assumption of this hypothesis is that individuals can maintain mindfulness and regulate their emotions during periods of stress. These two papers explore this assumption by first investigating the real-time, dynamic relationship between life stressors, mindfulness, and emotion regulation difficulties (Study 1) and then by exploring if mindfulness training may help to ameliorate the negative effects of life stressors on mindfulness and emotion regulation (Study 2). Eighty-one participants who were 10-18 years of age (Mage=13.75 years, SD=2.17; 56% male; 57% Caucasian; 24% Hispanic/Latino; 7% Native American; 7% more than race; and 5% Asian/Pacific Islander or Black/African American) completed ecological momentary assessments (EMA) three times a day for seven days at three different intervals (baseline, mid-intervention and post-intervention) throughout the study, contributing to a total of 3,178 EMA reports. Multilevel structural equation modeling revealed that the presence (versus absence) of stressors and the greater severity of stressors both were associated with lower mindfulness and greater emotion regulation difficulties concurrently in the same moment, but not prospectively from one moment to the next. In other words, life stressors may only be more immediately associated with lower mindfulness and greater emotion regulation difficulties as short-term, delayed effects from one moment (T1) to the next moment (T2) were not observed. Also, mindfulness training, compared to an active control group, was protective at post-intervention against the negative (concurrent) effects of stressors on mindfulness and emotion regulation (Study 2). Findings highlight that adolescents' life stressors may degrade untrained mindfulness and emotion regulation at given moments, but mindfulness training may help to buffer against these negative impacts of life stressors. Going forward, it will be helpful to investigate these relationships in the context of mental and physical health outcomes and to include longer periods of follow-up to determine the sustainable benefits of mindfulness training for adolescent health.
  • ItemEmbargo
    Sleep and insulin sensitivity in adolescents at risk for type 2 diabetes
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Clark, Emma, author; Shomaker, Lauren, advisor; Lucas-Thompson, Rachel, committee member; Riggs, Nathaniel, committee member; Prince, Mark, committee member
    Background: Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a chronic disease that is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States, and rates of adolescent-onset (<20 years of age) T2D are rising. Adolescent-onset T2D is associated with accelerated cardiometabolic comorbidities and shorter life expectancy compared to adult-onset T2D. As traditional behavioral weight loss approaches to T2D prevention show insufficient effectiveness in adolescents, it is critical to investigate novel, potentially modifiable factors that relate to poor insulin sensitivity, a key precursor of T2D. Poor sleep health is one such potentially modifiable contributor to poor insulin sensitivity and consequently, T2D; however, most research on sleep and T2D is in adults, and the specific characteristics of sleep health that relate to poor insulin sensitivity in adolescents at risk for T2D have not been thoroughly investigated. Further, research suggests that individual characteristics related to stress vulnerability, including dispositional mindfulness (i.e., non-judgmental awareness of the present moment) and self-compassion (i.e., treating oneself with an attitude of kindness and compassion), could alter the association of sleep characteristics with insulin sensitivity. In theory, dispositional mindfulness and/or self-compassion may act as a buffer in the association of poor sleep health and metabolic consequences. Thus, the specific research aims of this dissertation project were to determine to what extent objective characteristics of weekday and weekend sleep health, (1a) wake after sleep onset, (1b) sleep onset latency, (1c) time in bed, (1d) sleep duration, and (1e) sleep efficiency, were associated with insulin sensitivity, and (2) to evaluate mindfulness and self-compassion as moderators of the associations between sleep health and insulin sensitivity. Methods: A total of 128 adolescent girls (M ± SD age 14.40 ± 1.81 years) at risk for T2D participated in the cross-sectional, baseline phase of a parent study. Sleep disturbances were assessed with actigraphy over one week. Mindfulness was assessed with the Mindful Attention and Awareness Scale and self-compassion with the Self-Compassion Scale. The whole body insulin sensitivity index assessment of insulin sensitivity was determined from a 7-draw, 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test. Linear regressions were used to examine the links between sleep characteristics and insulin sensitivity, accounting for the potentially confounding variables of age, BMIz, race/ethnicity, and puberty. Dispositional mindfulness and self-compassion were tested as moderators of the association between sleep characteristics and insulin sensitivity. Results: Despite bivariate associations of insulin sensitivity with weekend wake time after sleep onset and weekend time in bed, after accounting for covariates, there were only two trend-level associations. Specifically, longer weekday sleep efficiency was related to greater insulin sensitivity at trend levels, and longer weekend wake time after sleep onset tended to be related to poorer insulin sensitivity at trend levels, accounting for covariates. Mindfulness and self-compassion moderated the associations of weekend sleep efficiency and weekday sleep efficiency, respectively, with insulin sensitivity at trend levels. Higher weekend sleep efficiency was associated with greater insulin sensitivity, only for adolescents with above-average levels of mindfulness. Higher weekday sleep efficiency was associated with greater insulin sensitivity, but only for adolescents with average or above-average levels of self-compassion. Conclusion: Sleep is an important area for future research in the prevention of T2D in at-risk adolescents. Mindfulness and self-compassion may moderate the associations between adolescent sleep quality and insulin sensitivity; however, these processes need further investigation. A comprehensive understanding of adolescent sleep will advance knowledge of sleep health, insulin sensitivity, and mindfulness/self-compassion in the prevention of adolescent-onset T2D.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Implications of late autism spectrum disorder diagnosis for females
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Tomasula Martin, Lily, author; Hepburn, Susan, advisor; Ortega, Lilyana, committee member; Harman, Jennifer, committee member
    The purpose of this qualitative case study is to examine the implications of the timing of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis for females, specifically its impact on psychological well-being. While it is well-known that females are less likely to be identified at young ages than their male counterparts, we know relatively little about the experiences or service needs of women with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who are identified later in life. Five women, ages 22 to 46 years who received a formal diagnosis after the age of 12 years, participated in an in-depth interview with a clinician focused on the impacts of a late Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis and the participants' overall well-being. Participants also completed a standardized self-report measure of psychological well-being. Participants then partook in a semi-structured interview to share their experiences of being a female with ASD. Responses from the questionnaires were summarized to provide a baseline understanding of participants' well-being while the semi-structured interview was analyzed to find themes in participant experiences. This qualitative case study includes a small number of participants, but we learned about the potential impacts of late diagnosis for females and their self-report of overall well-being. Both of which has implications for both research and practice.
  • ItemEmbargo
    Mother-child and father-child emotional availability during the COVID-19 pandemic
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Dungan, Maggie Elise, author; Biringen, Zeynep, advisor; Harvey, Ashley, committee member; Yoder, Jamie, committee member
    While the body of literature on COVID's impact to family life is rapidly expanding, most studies are based entirely on self-report data, leaving a critical gap in observational studies of parent-child interactions. The goal of this study was to evaluate parent-child relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic using the observational Emotional Availability (EA) construct. Parents (N = 43) were assessed using the Epidemic Pandemic Impacts Inventory (EPII), the Flourishing Scale (FLS), and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) questionnaires. The subcategories of the EPII were used to develop an EPII negative and an EPII positive for each parent. EA (sensitivity, structuring, nonhostility, nonintrusiveness, child responsiveness, and child involvement) was coded from filmed parent-child interactions. Separate hierarchical multiple regressions (HMRs) were run to evaluate each of the variables of interest (EPII and FLS) as predictive of EA. Child age and ACEs were added in subsequent steps for EPII negative and positive if the initial step was significant. For mothers, results demonstrated EPII negative as a significant predictor of EA with child age and ACEs adding only small amount of variance to the prediction. The same HMR process was repeated for flourishing, with the covariate child age alone. For fathers, flourishing was a significant predictor of EA and child age added only a small amount of variance to the prediction. Results indicate that experiencing high COVID-related stressors is associated with lower EA for mothers, but not fathers. Having high levels of flourishing during the pandemic was predictive of higher EA for fathers, but not mothers.
  • ItemEmbargo
    Emotional availability (EA) brief: single session feedback and coaching for improving fathers' emotional availability across a wide developmental spectrum
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Lincoln, Michael, author; Biringen, Zeynep, advisor; Prince, Mark, committee member; Harvey, Ashley, committee member
    Fathers are a historically underrepresented population in developmental research and must be considered for their modern presentation in parenting processes. Emotional Availability (EA) is a construct that captures the parent-child relationship quality and predicts positive outcomes for children. A recently developed intervention, the EA Brief, is a program conceptualized for easy administration that may be utilized to improve father-child dyadic functioning across a range of child ages. The final sample of interested fathers was 18 fathers with children between 4-months and 13.5-years. For pretest sessions, all fathers completed surveys (demographic information, the Emotional Availability Self Report, and the Flourishing Scale) via Qualtrics, followed by a 20-minute filmed interaction via Zoom which was later coded for EA. Immediate Intervention Group (IIG) received one pretest before the intervention and one posttest after the intervention over a 3-5 week intervention delivery. The intervention involved a 2-hour interactive Zoom workshop where information about EA, attachment, and mindfulness was provided, a 1-hour individualized, Zoom EA feedback/coaching session, and two weeks of text reminders about the covered content. In contrast to the IIG, the Waitlist Control (WC) participants received two pretests (same assessments as above) separated by the 3-5 week time period corresponding to the timing of intervention delivery for the IIG. After the second pretest, they received the same intervention as the IIG. All IIG and WC fathers received posttest sessions (exact same assessments as for the pretests noted above). Across 16 target variables assessing EA, six observed variables showed post-intervention improvement (a < .05) though no significant findings were found on self-reported measures. These findings suggest that fathers respond to programs that provide guidance for clinically informed, research-based parenting despite the program having limited effect on their self-perceptions of how they parent.
  • ItemUnknown
    A test of social-cognitive theory on child rearing: are more authoritative parents higher in parental self-efficacy?
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Gaylord, Joshua J., author; MacPhee, David, advisor; Haddock, Shelley, committee member; Mallette, Dawn, committee member
    Corporal punishment (CP) and harsh parenting behaviors increase the risk of child abuse and are associated with several detrimental outcomes among children. Drawing from the foundations of social cognitive theory and coercion theory, I examined long-term changes in parent self-efficacy (PSE) in relation to changes in child-rearing practices (i.e., authoritative and authoritarian). Using longitudinal data from the prevention program Dare to Be You (DTBY), I found that PSE was a significant predictor of child-centered discipline (authoritative), and harsh punishment (authoritarian). Child-centered discipline was moderated by parent attributions (self-blaming). Harsh punishment was significantly easier to predict, as expected by previous research on coercive cycles, and was explained by parent attributions (i.e., self-blaming and child-blaming), and problematic child behaviors. The effects of the DTBY intervention were also significant, with the long-term use of effective child-rearing strategies mediated through increases in self-efficacy. The implications of findings, especially the significance of coercive cycles and social cognitive processes in child rearing, are discussed. Future research and prevention applications are also noted to further prevent child abuse at large.
  • ItemUnknown
    Health discrepancies and marital satisfaction in older couples
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Richkin, Talia, author; Luong, Gloria, advisor; Steger, Michael, committee member; Quirk, Kelley, committee member
    Many studies have explored marital satisfaction and the factors that contribute to it such as communication, shared values, sexual satisfaction, and marital conflict. Furthermore, marital satisfaction has been robustly linked to health, and well-being. However, health discrepancy between romantic partners and how such differences in health may be linked to marital satisfaction has received far less attention. The current study extends previous research by examining the degree to which health discrepancy between partners is associated with marital satisfaction, using multidimensional assessments of both health (self-rated health, and chronic health conditions) and marital satisfaction (daily and global). Participants from the Relocation and Transitional Experiences (RELATE) study (N=82, comprising 41 heterosexual couples) completed questionnaire packets regarding demographics, health status, and global marital satisfaction. Additionally, participants completed experience sampling surveys, called ecological momentary assessment surveys (EMA), each day for 7 consecutive days via mobile smart phones. The results demonstrated that people with better self-rated health compared to their partner tended to report lower average daily marital satisfaction. Health discrepancy was not predictive of global marital satisfaction. These findings point to the importance of refining the distinctions between daily and global marital satisfaction, as well as further differentiating health conditions based on severity, to elucidate how different dimensions of health uniquely contribute to different dimensions of marital satisfaction.
  • ItemUnknown
    Exploration of factors impacting caregivers' comfort discussing sexuality with ASD youth
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Jensen, Spencer Lynn , author; Hepburn, Susan, advisor; Quirk, Kelley, advisor; Dockendorff, Kari, committee member
    The present study aims to understand factors impacting caregivers' comfort and education goals related to their autistic youth's sexuality through secondary data analysis. Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are a vulnerable group to sexual victimization and experience unique psychosexual development. There is little known about sex education efficacy for autistic individuals and how to support caregivers' comfort in addressing issues of sexuality with their youth. This study utilizes secondary analysis of pre-intervention data collected prior to a small (n = 8) pilot study for a sexuality education intervention for parents of autistic youth in 2006. In this project, the following questions will be addressed via narrative analysis and visual inspection: what are caregivers' goals for their autistic youth related to sexuality/sex education and what are the factors impacting caregiver's comfort in talking about their autistic youth's sexuality? Results highlight the heterogeneity of individuals with ASD suggest the need for multi-level and multi-system interventions to promote healthy psychosexual development for autistic youth as sexuality is impacted by several systems and impacts several domains of functioning. Lastly, implications and future directions for research and clinical practice will be discussed.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Does youth mentorship quality moderate or mediate the association between insecure parent child attachment and externalizing behaviors?
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Trotta, Naomi, author; Haddock, Shelley, advisor; Lucas-Thompson, Rachel, advisor; Faw, Meara, committee member
    Past literature has indicated that youth externalizing behaviors are associated with negative outcomes in adolescence, such as violence and drug use, however it is unclear if mentorship quality acts as a buffer for these behaviors. The current study examined the interactions between parent-child attachment, mentorship quality, and externalizing behaviors in the context of a youth mentoring program. Specifically, this study assessed 1) the association between parent-child attachment and youth anger, delinquency, and school behavior, 2) the extent to which mentorship quality moderated this association, and 3) the extent to which there are indirect effects of mentorship quality on the main association. Participants (N = 676; 58.4% male, 58.6% White; Mage=14.21) self-reported on the measures at baseline and again at program post-test. Findings showed parent-child attachment security was significantly associated with anger but was not significantly associated with delinquency or school behavior. Secondly, there were no significant interactions between parent-child attachment and mentorship quality in relation to any of the externalizing symptoms found. Lastly, the study found significant indirect effects of attachment security on anger, delinquency, and school behavior at the end of the mentorship program through mentee-reported mentorship quality. These results show promise for possible positive impacts of a strong mentorship quality on youth.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Examining parents' cognitive coping as a mediator or moderator of parents' trait mindfulness and children's behavior
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Krause, Jill T., author; Lucas-Thompson, Rachel, advisor; Brown, Samantha, committee member; MacPhee, David, committee member
    Children's behavior problems, whether internalizing or externalizing, are a risk factor for later mental, emotional, and behavioral health problems, and can be seen as the onset of a negative developmental cascade for both parents and children. Parent's mindfulness has been associated with lower levels of behavior problems, though the processes by which this pathway operates have yet to be thoroughly examined, let alone in diverse populations. One pathway through which mindfulness might operate is parents' cognitive coping; mindful parents are better able to maintain present moment awareness and nonjudgment, and thus are better able to cope with the stressors of being a parent, and thereby have better behaved children. This study sought to investigate this pathway and examine patterns in coping behaviors in a sample typically excluded from research: welfare-adjacent families with elevated levels of risk. Analyses revealed that cognitive coping could be characterized by four factors: adaptive, maladaptive, positive refocusing, and self-blame. Contrary to the hypotheses of the study, adaptive and maladaptive coping factors did not act as a mediator or moderator. However, the study did replicate findings of an association between parents' trait mindfulness and children's behavior, such that parents who are more mindful report children with fewer internalizing and externalizing problems. Limitations and implications for research and practice are discussed.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Meaning making in romantic relationship conflict: a scale creation and theory application considering adult attachment
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Najman, Natalie, author; Quirk, Kelley, advisor; Harvey, Ashley, committee member; Hastings, Pat, committee member
    While existing literature on conflict and attribution theory reveal valuable information about the relationship between cause of conflict and blame, a new theory of meaning making of relationship conflict may offer a focused lens to examine the ways couples make sense of an argument and provide a more complete assessment of conflict. The goals of the first study presented here were to establish the meaning making of relationship conflict theory (MORC) as a framework for understanding relationship-specific meaning making tendencies and introduce a new MORC scale. The MORC scale was hypothesized to identify three theoretically distinct categories of meaning making following relationship conflict: self-focused, partner-focused, and couple-focused. Results confirmed that people make meaning of relationship conflict by focusing on themselves, their partner, or their relationship more broadly. The second study aimed to establish MORC scale validity and explore adult attachment as a potential predictor of meaning making tendencies. Individuals (N = 214) were assessed using the Experiences in Close Relationship Scale (ECR-SF), Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale (CAMS-R), Perseverative Thinking Questionnaire (PTQ), and the Meaning Making of Relationship Conflict Scale (MORC). Results found a significant, strong, positive correlation between rumination and the MORC scale and a significant, strong, negative correlation between mindfulness and the MORC scale. Next, results revealed support of attachment as a potential mechanism that influences meaning making. Individuals with greater insecure attachment styles (dismissive and anxious/preoccupied) reported higher scores for meaning making of conflict. Individuals with higher avoidant or anxious scores were found to be more likely partner-focused in their meaning making. Secure attachment was not found to be a predictor for meaning making of conflict.
  • ItemEmbargo
    Relational satisfaction and telomere length: exploring the moderators of dyadic coping and mindful partnering
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Baer, Samantha Leigh, author; Quirk, Kelley, advisor; Lucas-Thompson, Rachel, committee member; Faw, Meara, committee member
    This study aimed to address the gaps in the literature surrounding dyadic coping, mindful partnering, relationship satisfaction, and telomere length. We examined the association between relationship satisfaction and telomere length. Hypothesizing (H1) that relationship satisfaction would be positively and significantly associated with longer telomere length. We then analyzed mindful partnering and dyadic coping as moderators of this association. Next, we predicted (H2, H3) that mindful partnering and dyadic coping would strengthen the association between relationship satisfaction and telomere length. However, our analyses showed hypothesis one is insignificant, meaning there is no significant association between relationship satisfaction and telomere length. The insignificance of our main effect inhibited us from testing our moderators, dyadic coping, and mindful partnering. One notable limitation of our study was that the data was self-reported, creating more room for social desirability. Future researchers could collect data on these variables through observational research to minimize the amount of social desirability bias. Although the findings from this study were insignificant, it presents the field with opportunities for future research.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Identifying support needs and intervention opportunities for perinatal fathers: an exploratory sequential mixed methods study
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Rayburn, Stephanie, author; MacPhee, David, advisor; Braungart-Rieker, Julie, advisor; Lucas-Thompson, Rachel, committee member; Prince, Mark, committee member
    The transition to fatherhood is a time of increased stress and risk for depressive and anxiety disorders for fathers. Father adjustment affects family well-being, but support programs that target perinatal fathers are not widely available, and it can be difficult to engage fathers in the programs that are available. Identifying the support needs of perinatal fathers and opportunities for intervention is an important and underexplored avenue for promoting early healthy family development. The following dissertation includes a review of developmental theories and extant literature and proposes a model of paternal perinatal development. Three studies are then presented using an exploratory mixed methods design. Study A explores perinatal father experiences and perceptions of their support needs. Study B quantitatively assesses social support as a predictor of parenting engagement, role conflict, and well-being in postpartum fathers. Study C investigates qualitative and quantitative evidence for a proof-of-concept evaluation of a piloted community-based group intervention program called DadSpace. Findings from Study A indicate that fathers find value in connecting with other fathers and are interested in support and information that are relevant to fathers. Findings from Study B indicate that both social support and self-efficacy are significant predictors of postpartum father parenting engagement and well-being, including work-home role conflict and satisfaction, parenting stress, depression, and anxiety. Findings from Study C demonstrate that perinatal fathers find value in a program that connects them with other fathers and supports them in exploring issues relevant to them; however, recruitment remains a challenge.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Predicting and protecting postpartum relationship functioning among heterosexual parents: results from a conflict communication intervention
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Murray, Samantha A., author; Braungart-Rieker, Julie, advisor; Brown, Samantha, committee member; Cummings, E. Mark, committee member; Harvey, Ashley, committee member; Luong, Gloria, committee member
    Postpartum parenting is a critically vulnerable period for parents. Adjusting to life with a new baby often comes with a variety of added stressors, for both new and experienced parents. This family turbulence with which parents must continue to maintain their romantic relationship commonly results in relationship decline. Despite these challenges, parent relationship functioning serves as the bedrock to a healthy family system. Understanding antecedents of the interparental relationship, such as parenting experience (new versus experienced parenthood), parent mental health, and initial relationship functioning, was the preliminary goal for this dissertation. Previous studies have highlighted several factors related to parents' postpartum relationship behavior and satisfaction often from mothers' perspectives; however, gaps remain in our knowledge of fathers' relationship experiences over this life transition. This study fills this gap by specifically investigating predictors of relationship appraisals and behaviors in terms of romantic attachment and constructive conflict behavior for both mothers and fathers. A dynamic change score modeling approach was used to address the secondary goal of the current study: to evaluate whether one parent is driving relationship trajectories for both parents. The third goal of this study was to examine the degree to which a conflict communication intervention, involving mothers and fathers, impacts relationship functioning postpartum. Results suggest an important divergence of the effects of the transition to parenthood for mothers compared to fathers, wherein having additional children may have a more negative impact on mothers' relationship experiences compared to fathers'. Furthermore, these results validate previous research linking parents' mental health to their relationship appraisals (romantic attachment), but not relationship behaviors (constructiveness), and highlight the need to further explore how each parent's mental health influences the other parent's relationship experience over time. In addition, mothers' and fathers' racial profiles played a unique role in their postpartum relationship appraisals and behavior in unexpected ways. Dynamic change score modeling further revealed that changes in mothers' and fathers' romantic attachment over time were co-driven by both parents, while changes in constructive conflict behavior occurred independently. Lastly, the conflict communication intervention appeared to alleviate problematic effects of certain variables for parents' relationship functioning, such as fathers' depressive symptoms on the trajectory of mothers' attachment security. Moreover, mothers may have been particularly benefited by the conflict intervention if they reported more depressive symptoms at the beginning of the study. Overall, the intervention had important protective effects on mothers' and fathers' postpartum behavioral constructiveness but had a limited impact on romantic attachment security. Implications for future interparental relationship and intervention research are discussed.
  • ItemOpen Access
    A comparison of suicide loss and non-suicide loss: the impact on family communication and affect
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Belzil, Eva, author; Quirk, Kelley, advisor; Ortega, Lilyana, committee member; Willis, Danielle, committee member
    Suicide loss and non-suicide loss impact thousands of people globally each year. Literature to date has identified ways suicide-loss can impact individuals and families in unique ways but has not indicated what specific aspects of family function are impacted for suicide-bereaved family members. Further, it is unclear whether family members can turn to each other to provide and receive support after their loss. The purpose of this study was to understand how suicide loss of a family member impacts individuals when compared to suicide loss of a non-family member. Additionally, this study aimed to understand how suicide loss of a family member impacts family dynamics on specific levels of communication, affect expression, affect connection, and general family functioning when compared to non-suicide family member loss. Perceived familial support was predicted to moderate the relationship between type of loss and these family function variables. Participants (N = 174) filled out 4 self-report measures that assessed family function prior to their loss, grief experiences, family communication, affect expression, affect connection, and family function after their loss. An independent samples t-test and a hierarchical multiple regression with a moderation analysis were run to examine the relationships between the predictor and outcome variables described above. When compared to individuals who experienced a non-family member suicide loss, individuals who experienced family member suicide loss reported more intense grief experiences (p = .03) but did not report significantly different family function. When compared to non-suicide family member loss, individuals who lost a family member to suicide reported lower family affect connection (p < .05) and lower family affect connection (p < .05), but did not report significantly different family function or family communication. Perceived familial support did not moderate these main effects.
  • ItemEmbargo
    Age group differences in responses to laboratory stressors: task appraisals and affect reactivity
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2022) Miller, James Walter, author; Luong, Gloria, advisor; Aichele, Stephen, committee member; Graham, Daniel, committee member
    Several theories of lifespan socioemotional development posit that adults become more adept at regulating their emotions during stressful situations as they age. However, mixed findings in the literature do not yet provide clear support for this assumption. Cognitive appraisals have been found to influence affective reactivity to stressors, but few studies have directly examined their role in explaining age-group differences in affective reactivity. Additionally, there is limited information available for how trajectories of adaptation in affective reactivity and cognitive appraisals in response to equivalent stressor exposures may vary across adult age-groups. To address these gaps in the literature, the current study used a structural equation modeling framework to examine younger (n = 138) and older adults' (n = 106) trajectories of affective reactivity and cognitive appraisals in response to three exposures to the Trier Social Stress Test. We then investigated the extent to which, over time, changes in cognitive appraisals accounted for age-group differences in changes of affective reactivity. Older adults reported attenuated reductions in negative affective reactivity, smaller decreases in appraisals of task-difficulty, and reduced improvements in appraisals of task-performance, relative to younger adults. Additionally, older adults' appraisals of the task as relatively more difficult over time accounted for their comparatively elevated levels of negative affective reactivity across assessments. Together, these findings suggest that older adults, compared to younger adults, may show attenuated trajectories of adaptation to repeated stressor exposures when the stressor is novel, uncontrollable, or especially threatening to older adults.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The effects of risk and protective factors on maltreatment for individuals with intellectual disability
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2022) Pinks, Miranda E., author; Riggs, Nathaniel, advisor; Fidler, Deborah, committee member; Brown, Samantha, committee member
    Research consistently demonstrates that children with intellectual disability (ID) are at a higher risk for child maltreatment than typically developing children. While the relationship between child maltreatment and disability is well-established, no longitudinal studies have assessed families of children with ID for early risk and protective factors associated with later maltreatment. This study drew on data from the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN) to examine children with ID in five samples across the U.S. who were at risk for abuse and neglect at an early age. The relationship between early risk and protective factors and maltreatment was explored through a series of regression analyses for children with and without ID. Results replicated the finding that children with ID experienced higher counts of child maltreatment than children without ID. Child behavior problems predicted later maltreatment counts for children with ID and without ID, and parenting stress predicted maltreatment only for children without ID. The findings indicate that at least some of the processes involved in child maltreatment are the same for children with and without ID, including child behavior problems. Future research should be devoted to better understanding why children with ID are more likely to experience maltreatment and higher counts of maltreatment allegations compared to children without ID.
  • ItemOpen Access
    An analysis on the experience of parenting for adults with autism spectrum disorder
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2022) Lee, Jonathan, author; Hepburn, Susan, advisor; Brown, Samantha, committee member; Daunhauer, Lisa, committee member
    A paucity of research has been conducted into the unique experience of parents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This lack of scientific understanding about a parent's lived experience is an obstacle to developing effective psychotherapeutic approaches to parents who have identified awareness of characteristic features of ASD. In this study, we present a qualitative case study of two adults with ASD who are parents. Both parents participated in an extensive interview focused on several domains: impacts resulting from characteristics of ASD, life changes resulting from a diagnosis or recognition of characteristics, impacts on executive functioning related processes, experience as a parent prior to recognition of characteristics or a diagnosis, belief in parenting ability, and insight into recommendations for support. Findings highlighted three main themes: 1) a conscious choice in accepting change, 2) saturation of self, and 3) the necessity for clinicians to adopt a learner's mindset.