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Child Abuse Negl. 2011 Jun;35(6):448-58. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2011.02.005. Epub 2011 Jun 1.

Changes in parental depression symptoms during family preservation services.

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University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, PO Box 26901, Oklahoma City, OK 73190, USA.



Parental depression symptoms often change over the course of child welfare family preservation and parenting services. This raises the question of whether certain processes in family preservation services might be associated with depression symptom change. This study tests three correlational models of change among family preservation service participants: (a) changes in depression symptoms are one facet of broad general changes in wellbeing; (b) the quality of the home visitor-client relationship is associated depression symptom changes; and (c) linking parents to adjunctive services is associated with symptom changes.


Participants were 2,175 parents in family preservation services, largely for child neglect, who were surveyed using standard measures at pre-treatment, post-treatment and 6 month follow-up. Change patterns were evaluated using growth models, including bivariate parallel and multivariate second-order models.


Parallel growth was noted among depression symptoms and changes in social, economic, familial, and parenting domains. A second order change model positing a global change pattern fit the data well. Working alliance had a modest association with improvement, but successful linkage to outside mental health services was not associated with improvement.


Changes in diverse indicators of wellbeing follow a global pattern which might support use of less complex rather than more fully comprehensive service plans. Findings about lack of adjunctive usual care mental health service benefit may be related to uncontrolled factors and this is a topic in need of additional study.

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