Transition to Parenthood: Change in Couple Daily Stress Processes & Mental Health

Prevention Research Center image

Funder: NICHD
Start Date: 2009

This is an exploratory study of daily stress processes and emotional well-being among couples across the transition to parenthood. The study will longitudinally examine links between daily stressors, couple functioning, and depression/anxiety in the context of a randomized trial of an intervention previously shown to reduce maternal depression and enhance inter-parental relations.

Recent investigations have enriched our understanding of the day-to-day processes through which stress disrupts physical, emotional, and mental well-being; however, the proposed study would be one of the first projects using daily diary methods to study the daily lives of couples during the transition to parenthood.

This investigation is of great potential significance because the stressful period of early parenthood coincides with the period of children's greatest vulnerability and need for a warm, security- promoting family context.

The findings of this study will inform a more intensive RO1 application, which will address the issues explored here in a more comprehensive and intensive manner. Such research offers the potential to yield new and important knowledge about both basic processes and intervention mechanisms that will be valuable in refining couple-level interventions.


Mark Feinberg, Ph.D.

Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center (PI), Penn State

David Almeida, Ph.D.

Human Development and Family Studies, Penn State