Term of Award

Spring 1991

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

Sara Connor

Committee Member 1

Freddie S. Hepner

Committee Member 2

Gary Oakes


Preterm delivery is the major cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality in the United States. Preterm labor leading to preterm delivery is a multifactorial problem resulting from many physiological, psychosocial, behavioral, and demographic factors. Although the literature contains many reports of preterm labor/birth risk scoring systems, none has shown a sensitivity of higher than 69%. This may be related to the fact that most of these tools rely on physiological and demographic data with little emphasis on psychosocial risk factors.

This study focused on a unique aspect of psychosocial health, self-coherence , and its relationship to preterm labor. The purpose of this study was to determine if there was a relationship between self-coherence and preterm labor. It was hypothesized that self-coherence is inversely related to preterm labor. King's theory of goal attainment was used as the theoretical framework to guide the design and implementation of this study.

This descriptive correlational study included a convenience sample of 200 pregnant women between 20 and 30 weeks gestation obtained from six clinic settings in Chatham and Ware Counties. Each subject completed a demographic data assessment tool and a structured questionnaire, the Self- Coherence Survey. A followup was made to determine if the subject developed preterm labor.

Statistical analysis of the hypothesis was performed using the Point-Biserial Correlation Coefficient, an algebraic simplification of the Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient (r), to determine the relationship between self-coherence and preterm labor. Correlational techniques were also used to determine relationships among the demographic variables, self-coherence scores, and the occurrence of preterm labor. Significance of the study results was set at p <.05.

It was found that there was no statistically significant relationship between self-coherence and preterm labor. Findings are inconsistent with a previous study (Budd, 1985) which did not investigate preterm labor specifically; but, supported the hypothesis that self-coherence had a direct negative effect (-.18) on perinatal risk designation.

Additional investigation is needed into the concept of self-coherence as well as other psychosocial risk factors associated with preterm labor. There is a need to repeat this investigation with the same and differing client populations. It would also be interesting to repeat this study with randomized sampling in a wider geographic area.

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