Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Prof. NG Ting Kin Ken
Prof. CHEUNG Yue Lok Francis
Adolescent motherhood has received insufficient research attention especially in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). It increases physical and mental health burdens and is linked to premature death among young mothers and their children. Past research on adolescent mothers’mental health has mostly been conducted in higher income countries. Moreover, relevant research has predominantly focused on the direct effects of parenting stress on adolescent mothers’ mental health and overlooked possible mediating and moderating processes. The main aim of this research project was to examine the psychological mechanisms in the relationship between parenting stress and mental health among adolescent mothers in Zambia. The project employed a mixed method design and included three studies: A pilot survey study (Study 1), the main survey study (Study 2), and a qualitative study (Study 3). Study 1’s objectives were to test validity and reliability of measures to be used in the main survey. A total of 129 adolescent mothers aged 14 – 19 years (M= 18.08, SD= 1.08) in Lusaka-Zambia completed measures of parenting stress, mental distress (depression, anxiety, stress), positive affect, positive and negative religious coping, rumination, resilience, parental responsibility, and social support. The results supported the psychometric properties of all measures to be used in the main survey. Study 2’s objectives were to test a hypothesized moderated mediation model in which the effects of parenting stress on adolescent mothers’ mental health (positive affect and mental distress) are mediated by positive and negative religious coping and rumination, and whether these indirect effects are moderated by resilience, parental responsibility, and social support. A total of 571 adolescent mothers aged 13 to 19 years (M =18.21, SD = 0.94) in Lusaka-Zambia completed measures that were pilot tested in Study 1. The results of the moderated mediation analysis with structural equation modelling using Mplus indicated that the effects of parenting stress on positive affect and mental distress were fully mediated by positive and negative religious coping and rumination. Additionally, the indirect effect of parenting stress on positive affect via rumination was moderated by parental responsibility. These findings support the protective roles of positive religious coping and parental responsibility in promoting higher positive affect and decreasing mental distress. Study 3’s objectives were to triangulate the findings of the first two studies by examining adolescent mothers’in-depth lived experiences of parenting stress, coping mechanisms, and mental health. A total of 25 adolescent mothers aged 16–19 years (M =18.32, SD = .90) in Lusaka-Zambia were invited for face-to-face interviews. A phenomenological interpretive qualitative design was used. The data were analyzed using thematic content analysis in NVivo 12 plus. The results revealed that social support, religious coping, creativity, optimism, tolerance, and perseverance were resources used to cope with parenting stress, promote positive mental health and decrease mental distress. Taken together, findings from the three studies show that positive religious coping, parental responsibility, social support, creativity, optimism, tolerance, and perseverance play protective roles for adolescent mothers’mental health. The findings offer theoretical, practical, and policy implications for adolescent mothers’mental health especially in LMICs.
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Nakazwe, K. C. (2022). Investigating the Psychological mechanisms underlying the relationship between parenting stress and mental health among adolescent mothers in Zambia (Doctor's thesis, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from https://commons.ln.edu.hk/otd/164/
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