Negative thinking and the mental health of low-income single mothers

Ann R Peden, Mary Kay Rayens, Lynne A Hall, Elizabeth Grant
Journal of Nursing Scholarship 2004, 36 (4): 337-44

PURPOSE: To test a conceptual model of predictors of depressive symptoms in low-income single mothers with children from 2 to 6 years of age.

DESIGN: Data were collected from September 2000 to October 2002 as part of the baseline data collection for a larger study in the eastern part of the United States. A volunteer sample of 205 women who were at risk for depression was recruited.

METHODS: Each woman completed a survey that included the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, the Crandall Cognitions Inventory, and the Everyday Stressors Index.

FINDINGS: More than 75% of the participants scored at least in the mild depressive range on the Beck Depression Inventory or in the high depressive range on the CES-D. Negative thinking mediated the relationship between self-esteem and depressive symptoms and partially mediated the relationship between chronic stressors and depressive symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings are consistent with earlier research by this team. Negative thinking is an important factor in the development of depressive symptoms in at-risk women. As a symptom, negative thinking might be more amenable to nursing intervention than to interventions focused on reducing chronic stress.

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