Background In Japan, as society changes, becoming ever more isolated and with rises in nuclear families, mothers are increasingly concerned and uneasy about child care. These changes have also coincided with a significant decrease in birth rates. The government took out the “indicator of support plan for the 21st century” in 2001. So, each prefecture had to draw up a concrete plan by 2005.
Purpose The purpose of study was to explore factors affecting mothers' anxieties and to evaluate effects of a child care support plan.
Sample and Statistical Analysis The questionnaire surveys were conducted with 1000 mothers, selected randomly, in 2002 and 2008. Mothers' anxiety was measured using feelings of loneliness, confusion about child-rearing and lack of standards as the children's development process. These were analysed using “ordered categorical logistic regression”. The explanatory variables were mother's age, child's age and child-rearing methods.
Results ‘Feelings of loneliness' was negatively correlated with a child's age (p value=0.07) and a maternal age (p value=0.044). Mothers' mental instability and a lack of families' cooperation significantly related with ‘feelings of loneliness' (p values=0.000, 0.000, respectively). “Feelings of loneliness” and “confusion about child-rearing” in 2008 (after implementation of the child care support plan) were reduced compared with those in 2002 (p values=0.069, 0.065, respectively).
Conclusions The introduction of a child care support plan including opportunities for counselling, friendship and activities increased family co-operation and more social interaction for both mother and child. The research shows these can be effective methods in reducing mothers' anxieties.