Title. Adaptive functioning and depressive symptoms in school-aged children
Aim. This paper is a report of a secondary data analysis to the hypothesis that a child’s resourcefulness moderates the relationships between the primary female caregiver’s variables (depressive symptoms and learned resourcefulness) and the child’s outcomes (depressive symptoms and adaptive functioning).
Background. School-aged children between 10 and 12 years of age are at an important stage of development characterized by dramatic biological and psychosocial challenges. Maladaptive functioning and depressive symptoms increase markedly in this stage. To prevent long-term effects of depressive symptoms and impaired adaptive functioning, identifying moderators of the relationship between stress and these mental health indicators is critical.
Methods. A secondary analysis was conducted in 2004 using the data obtained in 2000 from a community-based sample of 122 school students aged 10–12 years and their primary female caregivers in four suburban public schools in Northeastern Ohio. Instruments included the Self-Control Schedule, Beck Depression Inventory, the Children’s version of the Self-Control Schedule, the Children’s Community Living Skills Scale, and the Children’s Depression Inventory.
Findings. Children’s resourcefulness significantly moderated the relationship between their female caregiver’s depressive symptoms and their own adaptive functioning (P < 0·01). Children’s resourcefulness had a statistically significant impact on depressive symptoms and adaptive functioning (P < 0·001).
Conclusion. The key to reducing depressive symptoms and enhancing adaptive functioning among middle school children is to build their resourcefulness skills, especially in children whose female caregivers are depressed. This is an important role for school nurses.