Prevention of Depressive Symptoms in Preadolescent Children of Divorce

Published in: Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, v. 30, no. 1-2, 1999, p. 11-36

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1998

by Lynn S. Zubernis, Kimberly Wright Cassidy, Jane E. Gillham, Karen Reivich, Lisa H. Jaycox

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This study investigated the efficacy of an intervention program (the Depression Prevention Program for Children), which was successful overall in preventing depressive symptoms in 5th and 6th grade children, for a subset of those children--those whose parents have divorced. The 12-week program taught cognitive and social problem solving skills to children in group sessions conducted in their middle schools. There were 59 children in the treatment group--thirty-one (31) children from intact families and 28 children whose parents were divorced. The children completed the children's Depression Inventory at pretest, posttest, and at 6-month intervals after completion for a 2-year period. The program was effective in preventing depressive symptoms in both groups. However, there was a significant group x time interaction, indicating that for children of divorce, the effectiveness may begin to diminish over time. These findings are discussed in terms of the various factors which might influence the response of children of divorce to this and other interventions.

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