J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2022 Oct 24:1-23. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2022.2127104. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: Meta-analyses were used to test associations of parental depression with child internalizing and externalizing problems, based on 107 cross-sectional and 127 longitudinal effects for 164,047 parent-child pairs in 112 studies published between 2009 and 2020.
METHOD: For each child, internalizing and externalizing problems were assessed with the same measure and source of data. Meta-analyses were conducted with random effects, multi-level Structural Equation Modeling with Bayesian estimation.
RESULTS: Mean Pearson rs between parental depression and children’s internalizing and externalizing problems were statistically significant in both cross-sectional (rs = .267 and .264) and longitudinal (rs = .207 and .194) analyses. The difference between the correlations of parental depression with internalizing versus externalizing problems was not statistically significant for cross-sectional or longitudinal effects. For both internalizing and externalizing problems, the cross-sectional correlation was significantly larger than the longitudinal correlation. Using the Lag as Moderator Meta-Analyses (LAMMA), evidence of a linear negative effect of the measurement interval between parental depression and child internalizing problems was found. In addition, several significant methodological moderators were found, with most implicating informant factors. Significant non-methodological moderators included the proportion of girls in a sample and children’s White ethnicity.
CONCLUSIONS: Overall, the study provided evidence of small but consistent associations between parental depression and child internalizing and externalizing problems, including that these associations are present over substantial periods of development.