This study examined effects of an adolescent depression prevention program on maternal criticisms and positive remarks, whether the extent of adolescents’ depression accounted for effects, and whether effects of the program on maternal criticisms and positive remarks differed by adolescents’ gender.
The participants in the study were 298 adolescents whose mothers had histories of depression; youth were randomized to either a cognitive-behavioral prevention (CBP) program or usual care (UC). At baseline and 9-month post-intervention evaluations, the researchers measured the number of criticisms and positive remarks mothers made during an open-ended description of their child and their relationship. Adolescents’ depression from pre- through post-intervention was assessed with interviews.
Controlling for baseline criticism, at post-intervention, mothers of girls in CBP made significantly more criticisms than did mothers of girls in UC, whereas mothers of boys in CBP made fewer criticisms than did mothers of boys in UC. The extent of adolescents’ depression from pre- through post-intervention partially mediated the relation between intervention condition and mothers’ criticisms, for boys but not for girls. Second, controlling for pre-intervention positive remarks, at post-intervention, mothers of youth in CBP made significantly more positive remarks about their child than did mothers of youth in UC, regardless of gender; this relation was not mediated by adolescent depression from pre- through post-intervention. The researchers suggest possible explanations for the observed effects of CBP on mothers’ criticisms and positive remarks.