A three generation study of the mental health relationships between grandparents, parents and childrenReport as inadecuate

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BMC Psychiatry

, 13:299

Child, adolescent and developmental psychiatry


BackgroundIt is well known that children of parents with mental illness are at greater risk of mental illness themselves. However the patterns of familial mental health problems across multiple generations in families are less clear. This study aimed to examine mental health relationships across three generations of Australian families.

MethodsMental health data, along with a range of family demographic information, were collected from over 4600 families in Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, a nationally representative cohort study. The social and emotional wellbeing of two cohorts of children aged 4–5 years and 8–9 years was measured using the parent-rated Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire SDQ. The mental health of mothers and fathers was measured using the Kessler 6-item K6 scale, and the mental health history of maternal and paternal grandmothers and grandfathers was measured using a dichotomous parent-report item. Multivariate linear regression analyses were used assess the relationships between grandparent and parent mental health and child social and emotional wellbeing at ages 4–5 years and 8–9 years.

ResultsBoth cohorts of children had greater mental health distress with higher SDQ scores on average if their mother or father had a mental health problem. For children aged 8–9 years, a history of mental health problems in maternal grandmothers and grandfathers was associated with higher SDQ scores in grandchildren, after controlling for maternal and paternal mental health and other family characteristics. For children aged 4–5 years, only a mental health history in paternal grandfathers was associated with higher SDQ scores.

ConclusionsThe mental health histories of both parents and grandparents play an important role in the social and emotional wellbeing of young children.

KeywordsIntergenerational transfer Mental health Children and families AbbreviationsLSACLongitudinal study of Australian children

MDDMajor depressive disorder

SDQStrengths and difficulties questionnaire

SEPSocioeconomic position.

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Author: Kirsten J Hancock - Francis Mitrou - Megan Shipley - David Lawrence - Stephen R Zubrick

Source: https://link.springer.com/

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