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Economic Hardship, Social Support, and Maternal Depression: A Test of the Social Support Deterioration Model

Gjesfjeld, Christopher (2008) Economic Hardship, Social Support, and Maternal Depression: A Test of the Social Support Deterioration Model. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Objective: Maternal depression in low-income women is a significant problem because of its negative consequences both to mothers and their children. Although the direct influence of economic problems on maternal depression has been previously noted, there is a more limited base of support that explains potential mechanisms that could explain this association. One theory suggests that economic difficulties could erode perceived social support; a model known as the "social support deterioration model". This research tests this social support deterioration model by examining the direct as well as indirect impact by which economic hardship is associated with depressive symptoms. Methods: A sample of 336 mothers with children in mental health treatment was analyzed. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the hypothesized paths depicted by the deterioration model and relevant demographic variables. Results: First, economic hardship positively predicted depressive symptoms. Second, economic hardship negatively predicted perceived social support. Third, social support negatively predicted depressive symptoms. Finally, social support was found to partially mediate the relationship between economic hardship and depressive symptoms. Being married and working outside the home were also found to have benefits to mothers. Conclusions: Low levels of perceived social support were found to be one mechanism that explains the elevated depressive symptoms of mothers who maintain high levels of economic hardship. Economic hardship also maintained a direct impact on maternal depressive symptoms in mothers with children in mental health treatment. Future research should consider social support and economic hardship as potential targets for prevention and intervention of maternal depression.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Gjesfjeld, Christophercdg11@pitt.eduCDG11
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee MemberGreeno, Catherine Ggreenocg@upmc.eduKGREENO
Committee MemberKim, Kevin Hkhkim@pitt.eduKHKIM
Committee MemberMaguire, Lambertburt@pitt.eduBURT
Committee MemberGrote, Nancy
Date: 5 May 2008
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 7 April 2008
Approval Date: 5 May 2008
Submission Date: 1 May 2008
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Social Work > Social Work
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: chronic stress; maternal depression; reciprocity; social determinants; social inequalities; social support
Other ID:, etd-05012008-143647
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:43
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:35


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