Stability, structure, and effects of perinatal morbidity on temperament from infancy to adolescence

Robin June Miller, University of Rhode Island


There is a considerable amount of theoretical and empirical research on child temperament; yet there is little consensus on the theoretical perspective, definition, or measurement. In addition, the empirical research has been limited by a small age span and a focus on one temperament dimension. The theoretical framework of this study was the transactional model which views the development of a child as a product of the complex interplay between the continuous, dynamic influences of the child's biological heritage and his/her life experience provided by family and social contexts. This longitudinal, descriptive, correlational research study examined the stability, structure, and effects of perinatal morbidity on child temperament from 1 month of age to 17 years of age in a longitudinal sample of children born with prematurity and various perinatal risks. Three perinatal groups were a full-term healthy control group, a healthy preterm group, and a preterm with morbidity group. The aims were designed to determine and compare the factors of temperament across various temperament instruments, assess measurement equivalence for the instruments, evaluate the stability of child temperament dimensions from infancy to adolescence, and compare the effects of perinatal morbidity on temperament dimensions. With the exception of one instrument, study data matched the temperament dimensions defined by the instrument authors. Stability in unpredictability, activity, attention, and persistence were small in effect across time. There were no significant differences among the perinatal groups on predictability at infancy, age 8, or age 17. The full-term group had significantly higher attention at age 12 and higher activity at age 17 than the preterm with morbidity group. The preterm with morbidity group had higher persistence than the full-term group at age 17. With a greater understanding of child temperament, nurses can then meet the environmental demands and expectations of children and their families in order to facilitate "goodness of fit" and enhance optimal positive development and health. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Behavioral|Health Sciences, Nursing|Psychology, Developmental

Recommended Citation

Robin June Miller, "Stability, structure, and effects of perinatal morbidity on temperament from infancy to adolescence" (2007). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3292102.