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.
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