Impact of Depression and Childhood Trauma in Mothers Receiving Home Visitation




Robert T Ammerman, Chad E. Shenk, Angelique R. Teeters, Jennie G. Noll, Frank W. Putnam, and Judith B. Van Ginkel

Brief Type

Journal Publication


  • Healthy Families America (HFA)
  • Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP)


Research has documented the deleterious effects of maternal depression and childhood trauma on parenting and child development. There are high rates of both depression and childhood trauma in new mothers participating in home visitation programs, a prevention approach designed to optimize mother and child outcomes. Little is known about the impacts of maternal depression and childhood trauma on parenting in the context of home visitation. This study contrasted depressed and non-depressed mothers enrolled in the first year of a home visitation program on parenting stress, quality of home environment, social network, and psychiatric symptoms. Mothers were young, low income, and predominantly unmarried. Results indicated that depressed mothers displayed impairments in parenting, smaller and less robust social networks, and increased psychiatric symptoms relative to their non-depressed counterparts. Path analyses for the full sample revealed a path linking childhood trauma, depression, and parenting stress. Path analyses by group revealed several differential relationships between dimensions of social network and parenting. Number of embedded networks, namely the number of different domains in which the mother is actively interacting with others, was associated with lowered parenting stress among non-depressed mothers and increased parenting stress in their depressed counterparts with childhood trauma histories. In depressed mothers, social network size was associated with lower levels of parenting stress but decreased quality of the home environment, whereas number of embedded networks was positively related to quality of the home environment. Implications of findings for home visitation programs are discussed. (author abstract)

Data Collection Methods

  • Parent-child observations
  • Standardized assessment tools



For More Information

Ammerman, R. T., Shenk, C. E., Teeters, A. R., Noll, J. G., Putnam, F. W., & Van Ginkel, J. B. (2012). Impact of depression and childhood trauma in mothers receiving home visitation. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 21(4), 612–625. doi: 10.1007/s10826-011-9513-9
Author Contact Information:
Robert T. Ammerman


  • Participant Characteristics
  • Participant, Family, and Program Outcomes