Does Negative Affect Mediate the Association Between Maternal Depression and Child Coping?

Farah Harb, Yvita Bustos, MA, and Catherine DeCarlo Santiago, PhD, Department of Psychology, Loyola University Chicago, 1032 W Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60660.

In 2013, there were 33.7 million Hispanics of Mexican origin living in the United States, with women making up 47% of that population. Mexican-origin women experience significant stressors, such as discrimination, poverty, and family separation. This impacts their mental health, as they have been found to experience more chronic and long-lasting symptoms of depression in comparison to white women and Latino men. Depressed mothers also exhibit greater negative affect, which is associated with maladaptive child coping. The current study examines the impact of maternal depression on children’s coping (primary, secondary and disengagement coping), and if negative affect mediates this association. There were 103 mothers and children in the study; 90% of mothers were born in Mexico, while majority of children were born in the United States. Maternal depression was self-reported through the Brief Symptom Inventory and child coping was parent-reported through the Responses to Stress Questionnaires. Maternal affect was assessed using observational tasks and the Family Macro Interaction Coding System. Preliminary longitudinal regression analyses show that maternal depression at Time 1 was not significantly associated with observed maternal negative affect at Time 2. Negative affect at Time 2 did not impact child coping at Time 3, controlling for child coping at Time 1. Lastly, maternal depression at Time 1 only significantly predicted disengagement coping at Time 2, controlling for child coping at Time 1 (β =0.0012, SE=.0006, t= 2.06, p=.042) such that greater baseline maternal depression was associated with greater disengagement coping (avoidance and denial). Future analyses will examine if negative affect mediates the impact of maternal depression on disengagement coping. These results suggest that, although depressed mothers may not display greater negative affect with their children, their depression is still linked with poorer child coping. This highlights the need to develop culturally competent interventions to immigrant families.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Farah Harb

Institution: Loyola University of Chicago

Type: Poster

Subject: Psychology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 10
Date/Time: Wed 1:30pm-2:30pm
Session Number: 6558