Parental factors associated with depression and anxiety in young people: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Marie Bee Hui Yap, Pamela Doreen Pilkington, Siobhan Mary Ryan, Anthony F Jorm

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

389 Citations (Scopus)


Background There is a burgeoning and varied literature examining the associations between parental factors and depression or anxiety disorders in young people. However, there is hitherto no systematic review of this complex literature with a focus on the 12-18 years age range, when the first onset for these disorders peaks. Furthermore, to facilitate the application of the evidence in prevention, a focus on modifiable factors is required. Methods Employing the PRISMA method, we conducted a systematic review of parental factors associated with depression and anxiety disorders in young people which parents can potentially modify. Results We identified 181 articles altogether, with 140 examining depression, 17 examining anxiety problems, and 24 examining both outcomes. Stouffer s method of combining p values was used to determine whether associations between variables were reliable, and meta-analyses were conducted to estimate the mean effect sizes of associations between each parental factor and outcome. Limitations Limitations include sacrificing micro-level detail for a macro-level synthesis of the literature, not systematically reviewing moderators and mediators, the lack of generalizability across cultures and to younger or adult children, and the inability to conduct a meta-analysis on all included studies. Conclusions Parental factors with a sound evidence base indicating increased risk for both depression and anxiety include less warmth, more inter-parental conflict, over-involvement, and aversiveness; and for depression additionally, they include less autonomy granting and monitoring
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-23
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescent
  • mental disorders
  • parenting
  • systematic review

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