Self-Efficacy as a Mediator Between Maternal Depression and Child Hospitalizations in Low-Income Urban Families
The objective of this study is to examine the role of maternal self-efficacy as a potential mediator between maternal depression and child hospitalizations in low-income families. We analyzed data from 432 mother-child pairs who were part of the control-group for the Nurse-Family Partnership trial in Memphis, TN. Low-income urban, mostly minority women were interviewed 12 and 24 months after their first child's birth and their child's medical records were collected from birth to 24 months. We fit linear and ordered logistic regression models to test for mediation. We also tested non-linear relationships between the dependent variable (child hospitalization) and covariates (depressive symptoms and self-efficacy). Elevated depressive symptoms (OR: 1.70; 90% CI: 1.05, 2.74) and lower maternal self-efficacy (OR: 0.674; 90% CI: 0.469, 0.970) were each associated with increased child hospitalizations. When both maternal self-efficacy and depressive symptoms were included in a single model, the depressive symptoms coefficient decreased significantly (OR decreased by 0.13, P = 0.069), supporting the hypothesis that self-efficacy serves as a mediator. A non-linear, inverse-U shaped relationship between maternal self-efficacy and child hospitalizations was supported: lower compared to higher self-efficacy was associated with more child hospitalizations (P = 0.039), but very low self-efficacy was associated with fewer hospitalizations than low self-efficacy (P = 0.028). In this study, maternal self-efficacy appears to be a mediator between maternal depression and child hospitalizations. Further research is needed to determine if interventions specifically targeting self-efficacy in depressed mothers might decrease child hospitalizations.
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