Correlations between caregiver psychiatric symptoms and offspring psychopathology in a low-resource setting.


Objective:: Associations between parental/caregiver depression and adverse child outcomes are well established and have been described through one or more mechanisms: child psychopathology following exposure to a depressed caregiver, child psychopathology exacerbating a caregiver’s depression, and caregiver and offspring depression sharing the same etiology. Data from low and middle-income countries is scarce. We examined correlations between common symptoms of mental disorders in caregivers and their offspring’s psychopathology in a Brazilian sample. Methods:: In this cross-sectional study, adult caregivers were screened for depression during routine home visits by community health workers as part of the Brazilian Family Health Strategy. Caregivers with suspected depression were assessed using the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale and the Self-Reporting Questionnaire (SRQ-20). Children’s symptoms were evaluated using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Results:: The sample included 68 primary caregivers and 110 children aged 6 to 15 years. Higher caregiver scores on the SRQ-20 correlated significantly with psychiatric symptoms in offspring. Conclusion:: These results substantiate our hypothesis that child psychopathology correlates with caregivers’ psychiatric symptoms. This paper adds to the growing literature on community mental health assessment and can help guide future strategies for reducing the burden of common mental disorders in caregivers and children alike in low and middle-income countries.