Maternal depressive symptoms, employment, and social support

Dwenda Gjerdingen, Patricia McGovern, Laura Attanasio, Pamela Jo Johnson, Katy Backes Kozhimannil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this study was to characterize the relationship between maternal depressive symptoms and employment and whether it is mediated by social support. Methods: We used data from a nationally representative sample of 700 US women who gave birth in 2005 and completed 2 surveys in the Listening to Mothers series, the first in early 2006, an average of 7.3 months postpartum, and the second an average of 13.4 months postpartum. A dichotomous measure of depressive symptoms was calculated from the 2-item Patient Health Questionnaire, and women reported their employment status and levels of social support from partners and others. We modeled the association between maternal employment and depressive symptoms using multivariate logistic regression, including social support and other control variables. Results: Maternal employment and high support from a nonpartner source were both independently associated with significantly lower odds of depressive symptoms (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 0.35 and P = .011, and AOR, 0.40, P = .011, respectively). These relationships remained significant after controlling for mothers' baseline mental and physical health, babies' health, and demographic characteristics (AOR, 0.326 and P = .015, and AOR, 0.267 and P = .025, respectively). Conclusions: Maternal employment and strong social support, particularly nonpartner support, were independently associated with fewer depressive symptoms. Clinicians should encourage mothers of young children who are at risk for depression to consider ways to optimize their employment circumstances and "other" social support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-96
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2014

Keywords

  • Behavioral Sciences
  • Mental Health
  • Postpartum Care
  • Social Problems

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