The effects of paternal depression on child and adolescent outcomes: A systematic review

Shaun Sweeney, Angus Macbeth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Paternal depression has been associated with suboptimal developmental outcomes in offspring. We sought to systematically review the research evidence from prospective studies for an association between paternal depression and child adolescent emotional and behavioural outcomes. We also reviewed potential mediators of this association and sources of methodological bias.

A systematic review was conducted using the following databases: Medline, EMBASE, PsycINFO and Google Scholar. Reference lists of the included papers were also searched.

Twenty-one studies were included in the review. Findings suggested that paternal depression does negatively impact upon offspring development. This impact is observable when paternal depression is present in the antenatal and postnatal stages and during offspring adolescence. The strength of this association is strongly reliant upon a number of contextual mediators, namely; paternal negative expressiveness, hostility and involvement and marital conflict. A quality assessment rating showed the studies were relatively strong methodologically.

Heterogeneity regarding method of assessment and the magnitude and timing of exposure hinder attempts to make strong conclusions regarding the trajectory of paternal depression and its effects on child and adolescent outcomes.

Paternal mental health screening during pregnancy is necessary in order to identify and prevent depression negatively impacting offspring functioning. Including both parents in this process should encourage the alleviation of the environmental mediators which dominate the negative association outlined within the review. Research examining gene-environment interaction is necessary to uncover more accurate details regarding paternal depression and subsequent offspring vulnerability.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages43
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders (JAD)
Early online date24 Jun 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jun 2016


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