To assess whether a change in depression predicts a mother's change in maltreatment.
Observational, repeated measures study.
National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being, 1999 to 2004.
Mothers who retained custody of a child aged 0 to 15 years following a maltreatment investigation and completed at least 2 of 3 surveys (n = 2386).
Change in depression status between baseline and 18- and 36-month follow-ups, assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short Form.
Main Outcome Measures
Change in psychological aggression, physical assault, and neglect between baseline and 18- and 36-month follow-ups, assessed with the Conflict Tactics Scale Parent-Child version.
One-third (35.5%) of mothers experienced onset or remission of depression. Onset of depression was associated with an increase of 2.3 (95% confidence interval, 0.2-4.4) psychologically aggressive acts in an average 12-month period, but was not statistically significantly associated with change in physical assault or neglect.
Depression is positively associated with maternal perpetration of psychological aggression in high-risk families.