Previous studies suggest that single mothers are at a higher risk of major depression and more likely to use mental health services than are married mothers. The objectives of this analysis were to provide estimates of the prevalence of major depressive syndrome among single and married mothers, to investigate the factors which may affect the difference in the prevalence of major depressive syndrome among single and married mothers and to estimate the health care service utilization by single and married mothers.
This was a cross-sectional study using the data from the 1996–97 Canadian National Population Health Survey (NPHS). Major depressive syndrome was evaluated using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview—Short Form for major depression. The prevalence of major depressive syndrome was calculated among 3030 single and 10195 married mothers. The effects of demographic, socioeconomic and biological variables on the association between single-mother status and major depressive syndrome were evaluated by stratified analyses.
In the NPHS, the difference between single and married mothers in the prevalence of major depressive syndrome was found among women who were between the ages of 25 and 50. The association in this age group depended on race and on whether they had one or more jobs. Education,problem drinking, daily smoking, having one or more long-term medical illnesses, financial hardship and social support did not affect the association between single-mother status and major depressive syndrome. Single mothers were more likely to visit health professionals for mental problems than were married mothers.
The difference between single and married mothers in the prevalence of major depression is age-specific. Single mothers who reported having had one or more jobs and who are non-white had an increased risk of having major depressive syndrome, compared to married mothers. Future studies need to replicate the findings of this analysis and investigate why single mothers with ethnic minority backgrounds and those who are working are at high risk of having depressive disorders.
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Wang, J.L. The difference between single and married mothers in the 12-month prevalence of major depressive syndrome, associated factors and mental health service utilization. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 39, 26–32 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-004-0699-7
- single mothers
- major depression
- mental health service utilization
- general population
- cross-sectional study