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Br J Psychiatry. 2003 Oct;183:342-8.

Maternal depression and child behaviour problems. Randomised placebo-controlled trial of a cognitive-behavioural group intervention.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Psychology, Central Manchester and Manchester Children's University Hospitals Trust, UK.



Despite the frequently reported association between maternal depression and childhood psychopathological disorder, few studies have attempted to intervene with both conditions.


To evaluate the effect of group cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) on child behaviour problems and maternal depression in a group of women with young children.


An assessor-masked, randomised placebo-controlled trial compared three treatments: CBT for depression and parenting skills enhancement; a mothers' support group; and no intervention. An epidemiological (general population) sample was recruited.


Analysis showed no significant difference between the groups. Within-group comparison suggested that at the end of treatment and at 6-month and 12-month follow-up, child problems and maternal depression had improved significantly in the CBT group.


There was no statistically significant difference between groups. Both contact interventions seemed to provide some benefits to mothers with depression, with a possibly improved outcome resulting from CBT for children with behavioural problems. The results must be treated with caution.

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