Association between trajectories of maternal depression and subsequent psychological functioning in youth with and without chronic physical illness

Health Psychol. 2015 Aug;34(8):820-828. doi: 10.1037/hea0000226. Epub 2015 Apr 6.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine if the presence of youth chronic illness moderates the association between trajectories of maternal depressive symptoms and psychological functioning in youths.

Methods: Data came from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (N = 11,813). Using the 12-item version of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), symptom trajectories were estimated by latent class growth modeling over 3 measurement occasions (when their children were 10-11, 12-13, and 14-15 years). The moderating effect of youth chronic illness on the association between maternal depression and youth psychological functioning at 16-19 years was tested using multiple regression. Three measures of psychological functioning were assessed: anger regulation (Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory), self-concept (Self-Determination Questionnaire), and depressive symptoms (CES-D).

Results: Four trajectories (low, decreasing, increasing, high) of maternal depression were identified. The association of maternal depressive symptoms on youth psychological functioning was modified by chronic illness; less favorable trajectories of maternal depression had a more pronounced detrimental association on youths with chronic illness compared to controls.

Conclusions: Youths with chronic illness are particularly vulnerable to the negative psychological exposure of maternal depressive symptoms during the transition to adulthood. Family-centered transition of care programs in the medical setting may be beneficial in reducing the association between symptoms of maternal depression and youth psychological functioning.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology*
  • Maternal Health / trends*
  • Self Concept
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult