Mothers’ and fathers’ stress and severity of depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic: Actor-partner effects with parental negative emotions as a moderator

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Abstract

Background: In the face of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, families with young children are bombarded with new challenges and stressors. This study examined the additive and interactive effects of parental stress and negative emotions during COVID-19 on parents’ severity of depressive symptoms. 

Methods: Participants were 221 Chinese families involving maritally intact mothers and fathers of preschool-aged children. 

Discussion: Path analysis indicated that mothers’ parental stress interacted with their negative emotions, such that their stress was related to their severity of depressive symptoms only when negative emotions were high. By comparison, fathers’ stress and negative emotions were additively associated with their severity of depressive symptoms. Supporting the cumulative risk model, parental stress during COVID-19 and negative emotions were linked to parents’ severity of depressive symptoms additively or interactively, depending on the gender of the parent. These findings inform practitioners about the relevance of parents’ stress and negative emotions to their severity of depressive symptoms during the pandemic. Copyright © 2022 The Author(s).

Original languageEnglish
Article number294
JournalBMC Psychology
Volume10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Citation

Cheung, R. Y. M., Cheng, W. Y., Li, J.-B., Lau, E. Y. H., & Chung, K. K. H. (2022). Mothers’ and fathers’ stress and severity of depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic: Actor-partner effects with parental negative emotions as a moderator. BMC Psychology, 10. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-022-01016-y

Keywords

  • Actor-partner effects
  • Parental stress during COVID-19
  • Negative emotions during COVID-19
  • Severity of depressive symptoms

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