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Maternal Depression, Parent-Child Relationships, and Resilient Outcomes in Adolescence

NCJ Number
Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Volume: 42 Issue: 12 Dated: December 2003 Pages: 1469-1477
Patricia A. Brennan Ph.D.; Robyne Le Brocque M.A.; Constance Hammen Ph.D.
Date Published
December 2003
9 pages
This study examined the relationship between maternal depression, parent-child relations, and resilient outcomes in the context of risk of psychiatric disorders in a cross-sectional study of 816, 15-year-olds in Australia, which also involved their mothers, fathers, and teachers.
The adolescent participants were drawn from a larger cohort (n=7,775) born between 1981 and 1984. Children in this birth cohort were representative of individuals born in public hospitals in Queensland, thus representing a relatively lower socioeconomic sector of Australia's population. The youths and their parents completed a series of interviews and questionnaires. The Delusions-Symptoms-States Inventory (DSSI) of Bedford and Foulds was used to select women into the study, but the diagnostic information used as data in the study was based on the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV. Ratings by independent judges yielded a weighted K of 0.84 for depressive diagnoses. The presence of current Axis I disorders and lifetime depressive disorders in the child was determined by using the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children-Revised for DSM-IV. The Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist (father's report), the Youth Self Report, and the Teacher Report Form were used to assess current levels of internalizing and externalizing behavior problems in youth. The youths' current level of social and academic functioning was assessed by using a semistructured interview designed to assess functioning and strain across several important life domains. The study hypothesized that the presence of a psychologically healthy father, high levels of parental acceptance and warmth, and low levels of parental psychological control and overinvolvement would interact with maternal depression status to predict resilient outcomes in youth. The hypothesis was confirmed, as the study found that low levels of parental psychological control, high levels of maternal warmth, and low levels of maternal overinvolvement all interacted with maternal depression to predict resilient outcomes in youth. The study suggests that targeting maternal and paternal parenting qualities may be an effective means of increasing the likelihood of resilient outcomes in children of depressed mothers. 2 tables, 3 figures, and 23 references