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Professional Caregiver Mental Health and Well-being: Associations with the Early Care and Education Workplace Experience

Kirk-Johnson, Afton (2021) Professional Caregiver Mental Health and Well-being: Associations with the Early Care and Education Workplace Experience. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The child care context has a considerable impact on children’s development. However, only recently have we placed focus on the mental health and well-being of the context’s professional caregivers -- the millions of individuals who care for these children each day. Particular workplace experiences have been associated with employees’ poor mental health and well-being, and perceived discrepancies between an individual’s particular behaviors, attitudes, or beliefs have been similarly associated with these issues. This study aimed to examine associations between the professional caregiver workplace experience and caregiver mental health and well-being utilizing theoretical perspectives not often employed within the early care context -- the Job Demand-Control-Support Model, cognitive dissonance theory, and self-discrepancy theory. The results of the study indicated 1) an association between particular combinations of workplace experiences and professional caregiver mental health and well-being, 2) the wide-ranging caregiver perspectives and insights regarding tasks caregivers want to carry out in the classroom (i.e., aspired tasks) and those tasks they feel they have an obligation to carry out (i.e., required tasks), 3) the potential for caregivers to be characterized as experiencing discrepancy in the caregiving context, 4) evidence for the relation between the experience of discrepancy in the classroom and global psychological stress, and 5) the exemplar case conceptualizations that reflect the study design hypothesis overall, providing important information for future inquiries supportive of the work and well-being of professional caregivers. This research has potential implications for valuable improvements within early care and education practice and policy.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kirk-Johnson, Aftonark87@pitt.eduark87
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWanless,
Committee MemberGroark, Christina
Committee MemberMcCall,
Committee MemberAkiva,
Date: 20 May 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 8 February 2021
Approval Date: 20 May 2021
Submission Date: 17 April 2021
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 293
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Psychology in Education
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: early care and education, professional caregiver, mental health, well-being, stress, depression, anxiety, cognitive dissonance, self-discrepancy, workplace experience, professional caregiver experience, demand, control, support, required tasks, aspired tasks
Date Deposited: 20 May 2021 20:14
Last Modified: 20 May 2021 20:14


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