Masters Thesis

The moderating role of informal social support on the relation between child developmental delay and parental depression

Decades of research have shown that parent depression has serious implications for the entire family, as depression can negatively impact parents’ relationships with their partners and their children. Parents of children with developmental delays frequently report high levels of depression, but less is known about differences between mothers’ and fathers’ experiences of depression. Identifying intervening variables that buffer or worsen parent depression could help identify points of intervention to support parents experiencing stressful events. Social support is one resource that may buffer parents’ experience of depression, though less is known about how mothers and fathers may perceive social support differently. This cross-sectional, observational study examined whether social support served as a moderator in the relation between child developmental group and parent depression symptoms in parents of 3-5-year-old children with and without developmental delays. Results confirmed that depression scores of parents of children with developmental delays were significantly higher than depression scores of parents of typically developing children. No support was found for the hypothesis that informal social support would moderate parent depression scores. Also, no significant differences were found between mothers’ and fathers’ perceived social support, or depression scores.