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Longitudinal Associations Between Maternal Work Stress, Negative Work-Family Spillover, and Depressive Symptoms


  • W. Benjamin Goodman,

    Corresponding author
    1. The Pennsylvania State University
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  • Ann C. Crouter,

    1. The Pennsylvania State University*
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  • The Family Life Project Key Investigators

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    • **

      The Family Life Project Key Investigators include Lynne Vernon-Feagans, Martha Cox, Clancy Blair, Peg Burchinal, Linda Burton, Keith Crnic, Nan Crouter, Patricia Garrett-Peters, Doug Granger, Mark Greenberg, Stephanie Lanza, Adele Miccio, Roger Mills-Koonce, Deborah Skinner, Cynthia Stifter, Lorraine Taylor, Emily Werner, and Mike Willoughby.

  • *

    College of Health and Human Development, The Pennsylvania State University, 201 Henderson Building, University Park, PA 16802.

Department of Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University, S-110 Henderson Building, University Park, PA 16802 (


The current study examined associations over an 18-month period between maternal work stressors, negative work-family spillover, and depressive symptoms in a sample of 414 employed mothers with young children living in six predominantly nonmetropolitan counties in the Eastern United States. Results from a one-group mediation model showed that a less flexible work environment and greater work pressure predicted higher levels of depressive symptoms and, further, that these associations were mediated by perceptions of negative work-family spillover. Additionally, results from a two-group mediation model suggested that work pressure predicted greater perceptions of spillover only for mothers employed full-time. Findings suggest the need for policies that reduce levels of work stress and help mothers manage their work and family responsibilities.