The Role of Maternal Depression on Treatment Outcome for Children with Externalizing Behavior Problems
Studies have shown that, on average, Parent Management Training combined with cognitive-behavioral therapy decreases children’s externalizing behavior, but some children do not improve through treatment. The current study aimed to examine the role of maternal depression in understanding this variability in treatment outcome. Children with externalizing behavioral problems and their parents were recruited from combined Parent Management Training and Cognitive-Behavioral programs in “real-world” clinical settings. At pre- and post treatment, maternal depression and children’s externalizing behavior were assessed. Results showed that treatment was less effective for children of depressed mothers compared to non-depressed mothers and that improvements in maternal depression were associated with improvements in children’s externalizing behavior. These findings suggest that treatment programs for children with externalizing problems may be able to improve outcomes if maternal depression is a target of intervention.