Article| Volume 17, ISSUE 5, P316-324, September 2007

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Factors Associated with Major Depression Among Mothers in Los Angeles

Published:August 20, 2007DOI:


      The aim of this study was to identify factors associated with major depression among a sample of diverse mothers in Los Angeles while paying special attention to racial and ethnic as well as immigration status differences.


      Using logistic regression models, we examined the association between major depression and race and ethnicity, immigration status, and other key covariates. Major depression was measured using the Comprehensive International Diagnostic Interview Short Form. This study was based on 1,856 racially and ethnically diverse mothers who participated in Wave 1 of the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey, which was fielded in 65 census tracts.

      Main Findings

      After controlling for key covariates, we found that non-Hispanic white mothers had 1.67 times the odds of having major depression than Hispanic mothers (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.99–2.80). In addition, single mothers had elevated rates of major depression compared with married mothers (odds ratio [OR], 1.54; 95% CI, 1.00–2.37). Mothers with a college degree or higher had significantly lower odds of being depressed compared with mothers without a college degree (OR, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.29–0.86); mothers with only adolescents in the home had significantly higher odds of major depression than mothers with at least one preadolescent child in the home (OR, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.11–2.70).


      Given the links between depressed mothers and child outcomes, our results have important implication for mothers with adolescent children, particularly those who are white, single, or less educated.
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      Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo is an Associate Behavioral Scientist at the RAND Corporation and received her PhD in Psychology from Columbia University.


      Beth Ann Griffin is an associate statistician at the RAND Corporation and received her PhD in biostatistics from Harvard University.