- This study used a multi-method approach to explore factors associated with
high and low depression in a sample of rural mothers living in poverty. From a
sample of 117 women with very high or very low CES-D depression scores, 40
cases were randomly selected for in-depth qualitative analysis. Qualitative
comments about a variety of issues were explored including health, mental health,
childcare, transportation, community, social support, and family of origin
experiences. Quantitative data were then used in response to themes that emerged
from the literature and the qualitative findings. All 117 eligible participants were
used for quantitative analysis to increase power.
Analysis of the qualitative data revealed several critical differences
between the two groups. Low risk participants mentioned fewer health issues and
less severe health problems as compared to their high risk counterparts. Mental
health issues were reported more in the high risk group, with this group being
more likely to have multiple family members experiencing symptoms. All
participants reported receiving social support, however, the low risk group
reported positive social support experiences, while the high risk group reported
ambivalent relationships with the people who provided them with social support.
Reported family of origin experiences were quite different between the two
groups, with the low risk group reporting more positive past and current
Quantitatively, several interesting results were revealed, many confirming
the qualitative findings. Mothers showing higher levels of depression reported
significantly more health problems for themselves, their partners, and their
children. Additionally, participant's work status, income, perceived adequacy of
income, childhood welfare use, and presence of partner were significantly related
to depression. Low risk respondents were more likely to be working, perceive
their income as adequate, and have a partner. They were also less likely to have
received welfare as a child and had higher incomes.
The findings offer important implications for future research and policy.
Risk for depression seems to be related to a variety of factors, indicating that
something should be done to minimize an individual's likelihood toward
experiencing depression. This study ultimately provided a clearer picture of the
existence of depressive symptoms among women with children living in rural