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Child-specific and family-wide risk factors using the retrospective Childhood Experience of Care & Abuse (CECA) instrument: a life-course study of adult chronic depression - 3.

Brown GW, et al. J Affect Disord. 2007.


BACKGROUND: An earlier paper [Brown, G.W., Craig, T.K.J., Harris, T.O., Handley, R.V., Harvey, A.L., 2007a-this issue. Development of a retrospective interview measure of parental maltreatment using the Childhood Experience of Care & Abuse (CECA) instrument - a life-course study of adult chronic depression - 1. J. Affect. Disord. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2007.05.022] documented an association between parental maltreatment and risk of adult chronic depression. This paper explores the contribution of other child-specific factors (e.g. conduct problems) and family-wide factors (e.g. parental discord).

METHODS: Data are derived from an enquiry of 198 women largely comprising of adult sister pairs. Data was collected by semi-structured interviews covering a wide range of parental behaviour and childhood behaviour.

RESULTS: Parental maltreatment emerged as channelling the effect of family-wide factors on risk of adult chronic depression, but with a child's conduct problems and shame-withdrawal partly mediating this link. A child's depression before 17, although correlated with parental maltreatment, did not appear to play a significant role in adult depression. This core model is supplemented by analyses exploring the mechanisms involved. A mother's rejection/physical abuse and her depression via her lax control, for example, account for the link of parental maltreatment with conduct problems. Also 'rebelliousness' of a child relates to the chances of her low affection moving to rejection. "Rebelliousness" also appears to play a role in why the paired sisters so often had a different experience of maltreatment.

LIMITATIONS: The data is collected retrospectively - but see [Brown, G.W., Craig, T.K.J., Harris, T.O., Handley, R.V., Harvey, A.L., 2007b-this issue. Validity of retrospective measures of early maltreatment and depressive episodes using the Childhood Experience of Care and Abuse (CECA) instrument - A life-course study of adult chronic depression - 2. J. Affect. Disord. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2007.06.003].

CONCLUSIONS: Child-specific factors play a major role in the origins of adult chronic depressive episodes. This, however, is fully consistent with an equally significant contribution from family-wide factors. The crucial point is that the link of the latter with such depression appears to be indirect and mediated very largely by parental maltreatment.


17689666 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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