Objective. To determine the incidence of depressive symptoms in mothers of toddlers in community pediatric practice. The interaction of employment and work role satisfaction with depressive symptoms was also investigated.

Subjects and methods. Depression screening measures were completed by 233 mothers of toddlers (aged 12 to 24 months) at health supervision visits in two community pediatric practices in New Hampshire. Depression was evaluated with a depressive symptom screening inventory modified by Barrett, Oxman, and Gerber from the Hopkins Symptom Checklist for use in primary care population. Data were obtained on parents' socioeconomic variables, hours worked, and whether the mother was satisfied with her current role of being employed or not employed.

Results. Depressive symptoms were present in 42% of mothers. Rates of depressive symptoms were similar in employment groups but varied significantly with work role satisfaction. When both employment and satisfaction were considered, mothers who were dissatisfied were 3.7 times more likely to be depressed. After controlling for work role satisfaction, mothers working part time were half as likely to be depressed as mothers working full time and not employed.

Conclusion. Depressive symptoms are a major problem for mothers of toddlers in middle class pediatric practice. Work role satisfaction and employment status together are related to depressive symptoms.

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