Children’s Maternal Representations Moderate the Efficacy of Parent–Child Interaction Therapy—Emotion Development (PCIT-ED) Treatment For Preschool Depression

Meghan Rose Donohue, Jenny Yin, Laura Quiñones-Camacho, Laura Hennefield, Rebecca Tillman, Kirsten Gilbert, Diana Whalen, Deanna M. Barch, Joan Luby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A randomized controlled trial (RCT) demonstrated that a novel psychotherapy, Parent–Child Interaction Therapy—Emotion Development (PCIT-ED), effectively treats preschool-onset depression. However, little is known about which children benefit most from PCIT-ED. As positive parent-level factors are associated with lesser depressive symptoms, this study explored the potential moderating role of positive parenting relationships on PCIT-ED efficacy. This study examined mothers and their children aged 3–6 (N = 185) who participated in the PCIT-ED RCT. Children were randomized to immediate PCIT-ED treatment (n = 94) or a waitlist control condition (n = 91) that received treatment after 18 weeks. Prior to treatment, children completed a narrative story completion task that was videotaped and coded for children’s positive and negative representations of their mothers. Parent–child interaction tasks were also completed pre-treatment and videotaped and coded to measure observed parenting. Odds of MDD diagnosis post-treatment were predicted by the interaction of children’s negative maternal representations and treatment group (Estimate = -.68; SE =.27; χ2 = 6.45; p =.01) and the interaction of children’s relatively more positive than negative maternal representations and treatment group (Estimate =.30; SE =.13; χ2 = 5.27; p =.02). Observed parenting measures did not significantly predict odds of MDD diagnosis. Thus, PCIT-ED predicted loss of MDD diagnosis for children who displayed maternal representations that were less negative, and relatively more positive than negative. Results suggest that children with relatively more positive maternal representations may be more likely to benefit from PCIT-ED, whereas children with more negative maternal representations may need targeted work to decrease negative maternal perceptions before initiating PCIT-ED in order for treatment to be most effective.

Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Maternal representations
  • Parent–child intervention
  • Preschool depression
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Treatment moderators

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