Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Social Work

First Advisor

Leslie Hasche, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jennifer Greenfield

Third Advisor

Karen Frankel

Fourth Advisor

Nicole Nicotera


Infant mental health, Integrated behavioral health, Interdisciplinary research, Maternal mental health disparities, Social work


Research demonstrates the presence of maternal mental health disparities as well as barriers to quality behavioral health care among women with low socioeconomic status. Warm Connections represents an innovative, interdisciplinary intervention designed to improve access to timely behavioral health support for women with low socioeconomic status. Based on an infant mental health framework and drawing from integrated behavioral health and brief intervention approaches, Warm Connections addresses the psychosocial needs of participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The primary mission of WIC is to provide nutrition education, access to healthy nutrition, and health care referrals for pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, infants, and children under the age of five with low socioeconomic status. Co-located within WIC clinic settings, Warm Connections aims to reduce caregiver distress and increase caregiver confidence. This dissertation manuscript describes an intervention development study of Warm Connections. It includes a quantitative comparison of psychosocial needs assessments from the perspectives of WIC participants and WIC staff. It also includes the development and analysis of two versions of pre-post intervention surveys to identify which version measures intervention aims with the most sensitivity. Results show that WIC participants and WIC staff for the most part share their perceptions of what WIC families need most, but they rate the urgency of those concerns differently. Results also show that while both pre-post intervention survey versions detect statistically significant changes in the desired direction for most individual items, version 2 appears to detect change more reliably and somewhat more sensitively than version 1. Findings suggest Warm Connections may meet multiple urgent concerns among WIC families and affirm the value of intervention development studies for innovative projects. Through examining the development of Warm Connections, this study demonstrates how social workers may engage in interdisciplinary research partnerships in health contexts to advocate for health equity for women and children.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Susanne Klawetter


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

164 p.


Social Work

Included in

Social Work Commons