Maternal belief systems: The discourse of cultural practice as evidence

Ann M. Mastergeorge

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Fully developed definitions of evidence-based practice incorporate evidence from family perspectives, as well as evidence from research on the effectiveness of particular interventions. Systems for appraising research evidence typically place qualitative analyses at lower levels. The argument in this article is that qualitative data offer a different perspective that is of equal value to other forms of evidence, but that serve a unique function. To make this argument, data are presented from a qualitative study of maternal beliefs about problem-solving assistance with their children as a form of evidence that can shape subsequent interventions. This investigation focused on how to analyze evidence embedded in maternal belief interview discourse based on a set of interviews with mothers whose children were diagnosed with developmental delays, and with mothers of typically developing children. The results revealed that mothers' beliefs about how to assist their children with problem solving provided evidence to guide clinical practice by indicating how maternal beliefs influence interactions. These findings can be linked to clinical interventions, and can be embedded in cultural and clinical practices. Implications are discussed in terms of the function of qualitative studies as a level of evidence to guide decision making in intervention contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-73
Number of pages12
JournalTopics in Language Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical decision making
  • Discourse
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Maternal beliefs
  • Qualitative studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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