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24-08-2016 | Uitgave 1/2017

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment 1/2017

Social Skills Mediate the Association of ADHD and Depression in Preadolescents

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment > Uitgave 1/2017
Jason S. Feldman, Irene Tung, Steve S. Lee


Childhood attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a replicated risk factor for depression, but the explanatory factors underlying this association have not been reliably identified. Given that social skills (i.e., cooperation, assertion, responsibility, self-control) are sensitive to early ADHD and predict later depression, we tested whether individual differences in social skills individually and collectively mediated predictions of depressive symptoms from early ADHD symptoms. In an ethnically diverse (50 % non-Caucasian) sample of 232 children with (n = 124) and without ADHD (n = 108) followed prospectively for two years (aged 5–10 at Wave 1; 7–12 at Wave 2), we gathered multi-informant (i.e., parent, teacher) and multi-method (e.g., rating scale, structured interview) assessment of key constructs. Using a multiple mediation framework with bootstrapping and statistical control of sex, Wave 1 depression, Wave 1 oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), Wave 1 anxiety, and Wave 2 ADHD symptoms, an independent mediation effect emerged for parent-rated self-control in the prediction of Wave 2 depression (parent-rated) from Wave 1 ADHD symptoms (combined parent and teacher ratings). Teacher-rated social skills at Wave 1 also collectively mediated this association, with teacher-rated assertion emerging as a unique mediator. We discuss the role of social skills in emergent depression among youth with ADHD and consider implications for prevention and intervention.

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