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Parental death in childhood and risk of adult depressive disorders: a review

  • Christopher Tennant (a1), Paul Bebbington (a1) and Jane Hurry (a1)


The authors review the evidence that parental death in childhood predisposes to depressive disorders in later life. The findings in general are quite inconsistent; this is due in part to the methodological limitations of most studies, principally that of inadequate control of potentially confounding variables. Where experimental and control samples were most rigorously matched, no association was found between childhood parental bereavement and depression in later life. Parental death in childhood appears to have little effect on adult depressive morbidity.


Corresponding author

1Address for correspondence: Dr Christopher Tennant, MRC Social Psychiatry Unit, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF.


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