Depression and Family History in Central American Immigrant Mothers

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Ann H. Maradiegue, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

Learning Objective 1: Examine the factors that predispose Central American immigrant mothers to depression.

Learning Objective 2: Describe interventions to improve the mental health of immigrants.

Purpose: Depression is a global health problem that disproportionately affects women, and certain populations. The study purposes were to examine the relationship between maternal depressive symptoms and family history of depression, shared family environment, and stressful events; and to analyze this model using the variables to identify the mental health needs of Central American immigrants, so that clinical interventions can be developed.

Methods: Once consent was obtained, a 28-item questionnaire was administered face-to-face and read to the subject in their preferred language, so that those who were unable to read would feel more comfortable. Participants were recruited from area churches and community sites. The study sample included Central American immigrant mothers (N = 101) who reported residing in the USA with their adolescent daughter. Data were analyzed using SPSS. Fisher’s exact test and Chi-Square analysis were used for each of the independent variables, to examine the significance of the association to maternal depressive symptoms. Binomial logistic regression was used to model the relationships between maternal depressive symptoms and the independent variables.

Results: More than one-third (n = 36) of the participants were depressed, 39 of the mothers stated their daughters were engaged in health risk behaviors, and approximately half (n = 45) of the participants reported a positive family history of depression. These variables were found to be the risk specific factors in this study for depressive symptoms in Central American mothers.

Conclusion: Numerous factors contribute to the development maternal depressive symptoms. Routine health assessments are improved by obtaining a comprehensive family history for mental illness, coupled with a detailed social history. Targeted interventions need to consider the unique circumstances of Central American immigrant families so that available resources, such as mental health referrals and stress reduction that decrease disease vulnerability can be put in place.