Agnes Bohne

Bohne disputerer for ph.d-graden i helsevitenskap og vil offentlig forsvare avhandlingen:

“Parental cognitive vulnerability during the perinatal period and its effect on mental health and the parent-infant relationship. Results from the NorBaby-study”.

Avhandlingen er tilgjengelig her! / The doctoral thesis is available here!


Auditoriet er åpent for publikum, men vil også bli strømmet / The auditorium is open to the public. The defense will still be streamed.
Opptak av disputasen vil være tilgjengelig i et døgn. / A recording of the disputation will be available for 24 hours.        

Prøveforelesning over oppgitt emne starter kl. 10.15 / The trial lecture starts at 10.15
Tittel/Title:  “Theoretical and empirical perspectives on sensitive parenting and parental mental health problems as potential risk factors for the early parent-infant relationship”.
Prøveforelesningen strømmes her / The trial lecture will be streamed here

Disputasen starter kl. 12.15 / The defense starts at 12.15
Disputasen strømmes her / The defense will be streamed here

De som ønsker å opponere ex auditorio kan sende e-post til leder av disputasen. 
Opponents ex auditorio should sign up to leader of defense by e-mail to:

Populærvitenskapelig sammendrag av avhandlingen/ Summary of the thesis

Having a baby is one of the largest transitions in life, often referred to as wonderful. However, for many new parents, this transition triggers mental illness. Mental illness in the parents can harm the parent-infant relationship and infant development. To prevent this, we must understand why some parents get ill, and why this can be harmful for the parent-infant relationship and the infant’s development.

Infants are dependent on their caregivers for healthy development. Through interaction with their caregivers the infant develops the ability to successfully regulate emotions and they learn social skills. When parents get mentally ill, they might be less sensitive and responsive to their infant’s cues. For example, being caught up in negative thoughts occupies cognitive capacity, so that the infant might get less attention. Further, parents’ own negative childhood experiences can have a negative effect on parents’ attitudes towards infants and the parental role. Parents who are depressed might notice more of the infant’s negative expressions and emotionality, which further can strengthen negative thoughts and attitudes towards the infant and parental role. Patterns like this, where thoughts and cognitive deficits in the parents affects their own health, the parent-infant relationship and infant development, were of interest in the present thesis.

The Northern Babies Longitudinal Study recruited participants in the commune of Tromsø and followed them longitudinally throughout pregnancy and 7 months postnatally. Both mothers and their partners were invited to participate. There were three assessments during pregnancy, and three after birth. Participants answered a broad range of measurements, including cognitive tasks and questionnaires about their mental health, negative thoughts, negative experiences, and sociodemographic information. After birth, the infant’s daily rhythm and regularity was observed, and signs of social withdrawal was assessed during neuropsychological screening of the infant.

Results indicate that repetitive negative thoughts predict parent's mental health after birth, and the parent-infant relationship. Such thoughts can be identified already during pregnancy. We did not find significant relations between other cognitive tasks and parental health or parent-infant relationship. Further, having children from before was a clear protective factor for mothers, as they had lower levels of depressive symptoms and parenting stress, and infant regulatory problems. Mothers who had children from before also bonded more strongly to their infant. In fathers, on the other hand, parity was not protective of their mental health or infant regularity, and fathers bonded less strongly to their infant when it was not their first child. Probably, this can be explained by the father’s engagement and responsibility for previous children during the early months after birth. Social support from friends and family also turned out as a significant protective factor for both mothers and fathers.

The present thesis has important implications for perinatal health care services. Repetitive negative thoughts should be identified during pregnancy. Reduction of such thoughts could have a positive effect on parental mental health, as well as the parent-infant relationship. Health care services already during pregnancy should help facilitate social support for expecting parents and be especially aware of the mental health of first-time parents.

Veiledere/ Supervisors:
Hovedveileder/Main supervisor:
Professor Catharina E. A. Wang, Institutt for psykologi, Det helsevitenskapelige fakultet, UiT Norges arktiske universitet.
Professor Gerit Pfuhl, Institutt for psykologi, Institutt for psykologi, Det helsevitenskapelige fakultet, UiT Norges arktiske universitet og Institutt for psykologi, NTNU
Professor Vibeke Moe, Institutt for psykologi, Universitetet i Oslo  


Professor Mette Skovgaard Væver, Institut for Psykologi, Københavns Universitet – 1. opponent.
Professor Åsa Karin Hammar, Institutt for biologisk og medisinsk psykologi, Universitetet i Bergen – 2. opponent.
Førsteamanuensis Svein Bergvik, Institutt for psykologi, Det helsevitenskapelige fakultet, UiT Norges arktiske universitet – leder av komité.

Disputasleder/ Leader of defense:
Instituttleder Per Håkan Brøndbo, Institutt for psykologi, Det helsevitenskapelige fakultet, UiT Norges arktiske universitet

Når: 10.02.23 kl 10.15–16.00
Hvor: Auditorium Cerebrum, MH Vest
Sted: Tromsø
Målgruppe: Ansatte, Studenter, Gjester / eksterne, Inviterte, Enhet
Kontakt: Andrea Jennerwein
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