Psychological Medicine

Original Articles

Depression and common mental disorders in lone parents: results of the 2000 National Psychiatric Morbidity Survey

C. Coopera1, P. E. Bebbingtona1 c1, H. Meltzera1, D. Bhugraa1, T. Brughaa1, R. Jenkinsa1, M. Farrella1 and M. Kinga1

a1 UCL – Department of Mental Health Sciences, Charles Bell House, 67-73 Riding House Street, London, UK


Background Lone mothers experience higher rates of psychiatric morbidity, while rates in lone fathers have never been studied. We aimed to determine the relative contributions of financial strain and decreased social support to the excess of depression and common mental disorders (CMD) in lone parents.

Method We investigated whether parent status (lone parent, partnered parent, others) was associated with psychiatric morbidity measured using the revised Clinical Interview Schedule, after controlling for self-reported financial strain (income and debt) and social support.

Results Lone mothers were twice as likely to have a CMD (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.4–2.3) as other women. This was not significant after controlling for financial strain or social support. Lone fathers were nearly four times more likely to have a CMD than other men (OR 3.9, 95% CI 2.3–6.8), and this risk remained undiminished by controlling for age, income, debt and levels of social support.

Conclusion Debt management would be a rational strategy to reduce psychiatric morbidity in lone mothers. More studies are needed to inform prevention strategies in lone fathers.

(Received January 26 2007)

(Revised June 12 2007)

(Accepted June 28 2007)

(Online publication September 25 2007)