Can behaviour during immunisation be used to identify attachment patterns? A feasibility study

Rachel Pritchett , Helen Minnis, Christine Puckering, Rajendran Gnanathusharan, Philip Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Infant attachment is a strong predictor of mental health, and current
measures involve placing children into a stressful situation in order to observe how the
child uses their primary caregiver to assuage their distress.
Objectives: This study aimed to explore observational correlates of attachment patterns
during immunisation.
Participants and setting: 18 parent–child pairs were included in the study. They were all
recruited through a single general medical practice.
Methods: Infant immunisation videos were observed and coded for parenting behaviours
as well as pain promoting and pain reducing strategies. Results were compared between
different attachment groups, as measured with the Manchester Child Attachment Story
Results: Parents of securely attached children scored higher on positive Mellow Parenting
Observational System behaviours, but not at a statistically significant level. Parents of
securely attached children were also significantly more likely to engage in pain reducing
behaviours (p < 0.01) than parents of insecurely attached children.
Conclusions: Robust composite measures for attachment informative behaviours in the
immunisation situation should be developed and tested in a fully powered study
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)386 - 391
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • attachment
  • immunisation
  • infant
  • observation
  • primary care


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