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Perceived parenting and risk for major depression in Chinese women

  • J. Gao (a1), Y. Li (a2), Y. Cai (a3), J. Chen (a4), Y. Shen (a5), S. Ni (a6), Y. Wei (a7), Y. Qiu (a8), X. Zhu (a1), Y. Liu (a9), C. Lu (a10), C. Chen (a11), Q. Niu (a12), C. Tang (a13), Y. Yang (a14), Q. Wang (a15), W. Cui (a16), J. Xia (a17), T. Liu (a18), J. Zhang (a19), B. Zhao (a20), Z. Guo (a21), J. Pan (a22), H. Chen (a23), Y. Luo (a24), L. Sun (a25), X. Xiao (a26), Q. Chen (a27), X. Zhao (a28), F. He (a29), L. Lv (a30), L. Guo (a31), L. Liu (a32), H. Li (a33), S. Shi (a34), J. Flint (a2), K. S. Kendler (a34) and M. Tao (a8)...



In Western countries, a history of major depression (MD) is associated with reports of received parenting that is low in warmth and caring and high in control and authoritarianism. Does a similar pattern exist in women in China?


Received parenting was assessed by a shortened version of the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI) in two groups of Han Chinese women: 1970 clinically ascertained cases with recurrent MD and 2597 matched controls. MD was assessed at personal interview.


Factor analysis of the PBI revealed three factors for both mothers and fathers: warmth, protectiveness, and authoritarianism. Lower warmth and protectiveness and higher authoritarianism from both mother and father were significantly associated with risk for recurrent MD. Parental warmth was positively correlated with parental protectiveness and negatively correlated with parental authoritarianism. When examined together, paternal warmth was more strongly associated with lowered risk for MD than maternal warmth. Furthermore, paternal protectiveness was negatively and maternal protectiveness positively associated with risk for MD.


Although the structure of received parenting is very similar in China and Western countries, the association with MD is not. High parental protectiveness is generally pathogenic in Western countries but protective in China, especially when received from the father. Our results suggest that cultural factors impact on patterns of parenting and their association with MD.

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The online version of this article is published within an Open Access environment subject to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence . The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.

Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence: M. Tao, M.D., Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, No. 318 Chao Wang Road, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310005, P.R. China. (Email: [M. Tao]
(Email: [K. S. Kendler]


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