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Child Maltreat. 2008 Feb;13(1):39-49. doi: 10.1177/1077559507310611.

Maternal depression and trait anger as risk factors for escalated physical discipline.

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University of Iowa, IA, USA.


To test the hypothesized anger-mediated relation between maternal depression and escalation of physical discipline, 122 economically disadvantaged mothers were assessed for current and lifetime diagnoses of depression using the Current Depressive Episode, Past Depression, and Dysthymia sections of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID) and a measure of current depressive symptoms, the Beck Depression Inventory-Second Edition (BDI-II). Escalation of physical discipline was assessed using a video analog parenting task; maternal anger not specific to discipline was assessed using the Spielberger Trait Anger Expression Inventory. Reports of anger were associated with the diagnosis of depression and depressive symptoms. Bootstrap analyses of indirect effects indicated that the link between depression and escalated discipline was mediated by anger. Parallel analyses based on BDI-II scores identified a marginally significant indirect effect of depression on discipline. Findings suggest that anger and irritability are central to the putative link between depression and harsh discipline.

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