Maternal depression in association with fathers' involvement with their infants: Spillover or compensation/buffering?

Sherryl H. Goodman, Cara M. Lusby, Katina Thompson, Jeffrey Newport, Zachary N. Stowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Both concurrent and prospective associations between maternal depression and father involvement were tested to evaluate support for the spillover model (higher depressive symptom levels associated with lower father involvement) and the compensatory/buffering model (higher depressive symptom levels associated with higher father involvement). Participants in this longitudinal study were women at risk for perinatal depression in association with their histories of mood or anxiety disorders, their husbands/partners, and their infants at 3, 6, and 12 months of age. Maternal depressive symptoms were measured with depression rating scales at multiple times over the infants' first year. Paternal involvement was measured with a questionnaire (relative perceived responsibility) and a time diary (accessibility and engagement) inquiring about a recent weekday and a recent weekend, completed in a telephone interview, at infant ages 3, 6, and 12 months. Findings consistently supported the compensatory/buffering model for depression in the first 6 months' postpartum, along with an indication of spillover regarding maternal depressive symptoms that persist into the second half of the infants' first year. Findings are discussed in terms of implications for clinical practice and policy as well as suggestions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-508
Number of pages14
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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