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Article Critique #3 - Essay Example

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Ramchandani et al.’s article on the effects of father depression on children was published by the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry in October of 2008, and is available in PDF format from the PubMed database. The researchers are affiliated with the University of…
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Outcomes for Children Exposed to Depressed Fathers Ramchandani et al.’s article on the effects of father depression on children was published by the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry in October of 2008, and is available in PDF format from the PubMed database. The researchers are affiliated with the University of Oxford, the University of Rochester (NY), the University of Bristol, and the University of Reading. All the participants were U.K. residents. The article cites 32 sources and the list appears to contain a good mix of U.K. U.S., and international journals. The dates for the references range from 1987 to 2008, with a majority being 2001 or newer. Nine of the articles have only “maternal” or “mother” in the title, though most of the other references refer to “father,” “paternal,” or “men.”
A total of 7,601 men completed questionnaires for the study, a large study to say the least. The researchers assessed children at 3 ½ and 7 years of age, and data were compared for children whose fathers reported prenatal or postnatal depression (or both). The researchers theorized that exposure to father depression even before birth can affect the behavior of the child, even if the depression itself clears up. Although more than 7,000 total questionnaires were completed, only 175 reported prenatal-only depression, 166 reported postnatal-only, and 89 reported both. The results of comparing these three groups together with the controls (never depressed) show that both prenatal and postnatal depression in fathers causes children higher levels of behavior problems later in life, usually conduct disorders, and fathers who reported depression at both times were even more likely to have children with behavior problems.
The researchers broke the data on the children into boy and girl sets. Their findings show that both postnatal depression and pre- and postnatal depression caused boys behavior problems, but interestingly the prenatal only group of children exhibited conduct problems but not emotional or overall problems. The findings for girls were less statistically significant, but the analysis showed that girls exposed to depression also had more conduct problems than girls who were not exposed to paternal depression. Basically, it is clear that boys exposed to their father’s depression, even if it is just prenatally, exhibit behavior problems in later life more than boys who are not exposed to paternal depression.
The study is limited by the broad nature of the population (7,601 total) and the small number of men reporting depression (430 total). In addition, the depression was self-reported and not clinically verified. Reports on the child’s behavior were made by the mothers and cross-referenced with the father’s self-reported depression, so bias is probably eliminated there. It is clear that paternal depression has an affect on children, though the phenomenon has not been well-studied. This study did not attempt to explain the relationship between father depression, mother depression or stress, socioeconomic factors, divorce, types of behavior problems, and so on. The direct measurement between behavior problems and paternal depression is statistically significant and these other factors could be examined by other researchers.
Reference
Ramchandani, P., O’Connor, T., Evans, J., Heron, J., Murray, L., and Stein, A. (2008). The effects of pre- and postnatal depression in fathers: A natural experiment comparing the effects of exposure to depression on offspring. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49(10), 1069-1078. Read More
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