A survey of perceived social support among pregnant women in the intermountain region
Social support influences health and well-being. Research findings show that social support positively influences pregnancy outcomes. The purpose of this descriptive study was to describe and explore perceived social support of pregnant women and determine if social support is associated with degrees of rurality, i.e., urban, rural and remote rural. The sample was comprised of 60 pregnant women in their second and third trimester who resided in the Intermountain region. Perceived social support self-report surveys (PRQ85- Part 2) were distributed and completed by women at two urban clinics and one hospital located in Montana. Perceived social support scores were calculated for each participant, with a possible range from 25-175; higher scores indicated greater perceived social support. The mean perceived social support score for the sample was 152.9. Scores were highest among those who were married, Caucasian, had a higher level of education, had a higher annual income, and who indicated their primary source of support as spouse. Scores were also highest for those in their third trimester with complications of the current pregnancy. Scores were lowest for those who indicated living in a remote rural setting and highest for those from a rural setting. When stratified by degrees of rurality, findings reflected those of the entire sample except the remote rural group, which had lower scores with a higher annual income and were in their third trimester. Possible explanations for these findings are supported by Cohen's stress buffering model of social support and rural nursing theory. These results may help nurses and other healthcare providers offer a more holistic approach to meeting unique health care needs of pregnant women in rural communities. Of significance here is recognizing social support as important to health care during pregnancy, a specific period of time when health promotion and prevention are of critical importance.