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Clin Psychol Rev. 2007 Dec;27(8):986-1003. Epub 2007 Mar 12.

Examining the association between parenting and childhood depression: a meta-analysis.

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Department of Psychiatry, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia, USA.


Theoretical models posit that parenting plays a causal role in the development and maintenance of child psychological problems, yet meta-analytic findings indicate that parenting accounts for less than 6% of the variance in child externalizing problems and less than 4% of the variance in childhood anxiety. Extending the analysis to childhood depression, we conducted a meta-analysis of 45 studies testing the association between parenting and childhood depression. We found that parenting accounted for 8% of the variance in child depression. Parental rejection was more strongly related to childhood depression than was parental control. Moreover, various subdimensions of parenting were differentially associated with childhood depression, with parental hostility toward the child most strongly related to child depression. Analyses also revealed that methodological factors (i.e., how parenting and child depression was conceptualized and assessed) moderated the parenting-childhood depression association. Inconsistent findings within the literature are partially attributable to variations from study to study in measurement quality. Closer attention to the precise measurement of these two constructs in future studies may lead to a more accurate estimate of the association between parenting and child depression. In all, the modest association between parenting and childhood depression indicates that factors other than parenting may account for the preponderance of variance in childhood depression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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