Emotional support, negative interaction and major depressive disorder among African Americans and Caribbean Blacks: findings from the National Survey of American Life

Original Paper



Few studies have examined the association between social support, negative interaction, and major depressive disorder among representative samples of racial and ethnic minority groups. This study investigates the relationship between emotional support and negative interaction with family members on lifetime major depressive disorder among African Americans and Caribbean Blacks.


Cross-sectional epidemiologic data from the National Survey of American Life and multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to predict lifetime history of major depressive disorder and to examine the effect of perceived emotional support and negative interaction on major depressive disorder among 3,570 African Americans and 1,621 Caribbean Blacks aged 18 and older.


Multivariate analyses found that perceived emotional support was associated with lower odds of MDD for African Americans and Caribbean Blacks. Negative interaction with family was associated with greater odds of MDD for African Americans and Caribbean Blacks. Emotional support moderated the impact of negative interaction on MDD for Caribbean Blacks, but not for African Americans.


This is the first study to investigate the relationships between emotional support, negative interaction with family members and depressive disorder among African Americans and Caribbean Blacks. Negative interaction was a risk factor for depression and emotional support was a protective factor.


Social support Negative interaction Depression African Americans Black Caribbeans 



Data collection on which this study is based was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH; U01-MH57716), the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the University of Michigan. Preparation of this manuscript was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to Dr. Lincoln (R01-MH084963) and a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Post-doctoral Fellowship to Dr. Chae.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Southern California, School of Social WorkLos Angeles, USA
  2. 2.Emory University, Rollins School of Public HealthAtlanta, USA

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