Parent Traumatic Events and Adolescent Internalizing Symptoms: The Mediating Role of Parental Depression Among Youth with Persistent Post-concussive Symptoms

J Pediatr Psychol. 2021 Jun 3;46(5):547-556. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsaa128.


Objective: Research has demonstrated associations between parental depression (PD) and negative psychological outcomes among their children. However, little is known about the pathways through which lifetime parent traumatic events (PTEs) influence their adolescents' internalizing symptoms. Our study examined whether PD mediates the association between PTE and adolescent depressive and anxious symptoms among youth with persistent postconcussive symptoms (PPCS).

Methods: We used baseline data from a randomized effectiveness trial of collaborative care for treatment of persistent postconcussive symptoms among sports-injured adolescents aged 11-18 years. Parent-adolescent dyads were recruited from pediatric clinics throughout western Washington. Eligible adolescents had three or more PPCS that lasted for at least 1 month but <9 months and spoke English. Of 1,870 potentially eligible adolescents, 1,480 (79%) were excluded for not meeting the inclusion criteria. Of the eligible 390 adolescents, 189 (49%) declined to participate/consent. Participants included 200 parent-adolescent dyads (adolescent Mage = 14.7 years, SD = 1.7). Parent respondents were mostly female (83%) and mothers (81%). Adolescents reported on their depressive (Patient Health Questionnaire-9; PHQ-9) and anxious symptoms (Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale-Short Version [anxiety subscale]) and parents reported on their depressive symptoms (M = 3.7, SD = 3.7; PHQ-9).

Results: Mediation analyses revealed two (out of four) significant indirect effects of PTE on both adolescent and parent report of depressive symptoms, but not anxiety.

Conclusions: This study elucidates one pathway (PD) through which PTE history influences adolescent depressive symptoms, supporting a two-generation approach to pediatric patient care for youth experiencing PPCS.

Trial registration: NCT03034720.

Keywords: adolescents; anxiety; concussion; depression; mediation; parent psychosocial functioning.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Child
  • Depression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome*

Associated data