Background: To examine the mediating effect of family functioning on the relation between maternal and adolescent depressive symptoms and determine whether the magnitude of the mediating effect is different for adolescents with and without chronic physical health conditions.
Methods: Data come from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth. A representative survey of 11,813 adolescents and their mothers was included. Maternal and adolescent depressive symptoms were measured using the 12-item Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. Family functioning was measured using the McMaster Family Assessment Device. Multilevel multiple-group path analysis was used to examine potential mediating and moderating effects.
Results: Family functioning measured when adolescents were 14-15 years mediated the relation between maternal depressive symptoms (measured at 10-13 years) and adolescent depressive symptoms (measured at 16-19 years) for both adolescents with [αβ = 0.02 (0.02, 0.03)] and without chronic health conditions [αβ = 0.01 (0.00, 0.01)]. These findings provided evidence to suggest mediated moderation, Δαβ = 0.02 (0.01, 0.03), that is, the mediating effect of family functioning was significantly larger for adolescents with chronic health conditions.
Conclusions: The mediating effect of family functioning in the relation between maternal and adolescent depressive symptoms is larger for adolescents with chronic health conditions. Within the framework of family-centered care, maternal depressive symptoms and family functioning are suitable targets for preventive intervention for adolescents with chronic health conditions.
Keywords: Adolescent; Chronic condition; Chronic illness; Depression; Family functioning; Mothers; Path analysis; Stress.