Depression is a common and debilitating illness and there is a strong association between maternal depression and childhood Conduct Disorder (CD). This paper examines the impact of maternal depression on the outcome of treatment for the prevention of CD. Data from the Hutchings et al. (2007) Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) of a parenting programme for parents of high-risk three and four year olds are used to explore the potential role of change in maternal depression as a mediator of child behaviour outcome. The role of positive parenting as an additional mediator was also examined due to previous research findings. Improvement in maternal depression was found to be a significant partial mediator of improvement in child behaviour. Maternal depression continued to be a partial mediator when positive parenting was included in the mediation model. Parenting interventions for the prevention of CD are more likely to result in improved child behaviour when they also address the skill deficits known to be associated with maternal depression.
Bibliography: Hutchings, J., Bywater, T., Williams, M. E., Lane, E., and Whitaker, C. 2012. Psychology in Schools, 3, 795-801.