Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Science

Dissertation Committee

L. Colette Jones, PhD, RN, FAAN, Chair; Mary Jo Clark, PhD, RN; Susan H. Harris, DNSc, RN


childbirth, Ethnography, nursing, Obstetrics, social support, women


The purpose of this study was to explore the phenomenon of social support throughout labor and childbirth in order to develop descriptive theory based on the behaviors of the labor and childbirth convoy. Utilizing ethnographic methodology, five women and their support convoys were observed throughout the women's labor and childbirth experience. Word processing and the ETHNOGRAPH software were used for data management, and constant comparative coding methodology was employed for data analysis. Affirmative, affective and aid-giving behaviors were enacted by all convoy members. Consistently, social support was found to be communicated to the laboring woman by her lay supporters by the assurance of continuous presence. Support was provided by convoy members both physically present at the event and available to the woman by phone. The physical environment was seen as a major influence on how social support is transacted. Furniture, lighting and equipment seemed to be the trigger for timing and delivery of support transactions. These patterns require further definition and investigation through continued research. In particular, the body of nursing knowledge can be expanded through validation of these findings with convoy members' description of the temporary nature of role assumption on the part of lay supporters, and description of convoy member activities in different cultures.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons