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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1993 Jun;21(3):245-69.

The effect of maternal depression on maternal ratings of child behavior.

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Christchurch Health and Development Study, Christchurch School of Medicine, Christchurch Hospital, New Zealand.


There have been continuing concerns about the extent to which maternal depression may influence maternal reports of child behavior. To examine this issue, a series of structural equation models of the relationships between maternal depression and errors in maternal reports of child behavior was proposed and tested. These models assumed that (a) maternal depression was unrelated to maternal reporting behavior; (b) maternal depression causally influenced maternal reporting accuracy; (c) maternal depression was correlated with reporting accuracy. These models were fitted to data on maternal depression and multiple-informant (mother, teacher, child) reports of conduct disorder and attention deficit behaviors for a birth cohort of 12- and 13-year-old New Zealand children. The results of model fitting suggested the presence of small to moderate correlations (r = +.13 to +.40) between maternal depression and maternal reporting errors, indicating the presence of a tendency for increasing maternal depression to be associated with a tendency for mothers to over-report child behavior problems. However, independently of any effects of maternal depression on maternal reporting errors there was evidence of small but significant associations (r = .10 to .17; p < .05) between maternal depression and child conduct disorder and attention deficit behaviors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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