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Do parents know best? Parent-reported vs. child-reported depression symptoms as predictors of future child mood disorder in a high-risk sample

Lewis, Katie J.S., Mars, Becky ORCID:, Lewis, Gemma, Rice, Frances ORCID:, Sellers, Ruth, Thapar, Ajay Kumar ORCID:, Craddock, Nicholas John ORCID:, Collishaw, Stephan ORCID: and Thapar, Anita ORCID: 2012. Do parents know best? Parent-reported vs. child-reported depression symptoms as predictors of future child mood disorder in a high-risk sample. Journal of Affective Disorders 141 (2-3) , pp. 233-236. 10.1016/j.jad.2012.03.008

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Background Parents with depression are thought to be unreliable reporters of children's depression symptoms, but findings are contradictory and primarily focus on discrepancies between parent and child reports rather than on the predictive validity of informants. Using a sample of parents with recurrent depression, our analyses utilised data from a prospective high-risk longitudinal study (the Early Prediction of Adolescent Depression study) to investigate whether baseline parental reports of child depression symptoms predicted new onset mood disorder (NOMD) in children. Methods The sample included 287 parents with a history of recurrent depression and their adolescent offspring (aged 9-17 at baseline). Families were assessed at three time points. The Child and Adolescent Psychiatric assessment (parent and child versions) was used to assess the number of child depression symptoms (computed separately by informant at baseline) and NOMD at follow-up. All DSM-IV diagnoses were confirmed by two child psychiatrists. Results Parent reports of child depression symptoms at baseline significantly predicted NOMD in children. Secondary analyses stratifying the sample according to child age showed that, for younger children, parent reports were significantly better at predicting NOMD compared to child reports. For children aged 12 or older, there were no significant differences between parent and child reports in predicting NOMD. The pattern of association remained the same once we controlled for baseline levels of parental depression. Limitations Not all parents were currently experiencing an episode of depression at the baseline assessments; the sample consisted predominantly of mothers, thus findings may not be applicable to fathers or families without a history of parental depression. Conclusions In this high risk sample, child and parent ratings of depression predict new onset child mood disorder to a similar degree. Clinicians and researchers should give due consideration to parent ratings of their children's depression symptoms, regardless of whether the parent suffers with depression.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI)
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Uncontrolled Keywords: depression, child, adolescent, parent, bias, informant
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0165-0327
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 10:41

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