Background Previous studies have documented the association between mothers’ personal social support and mothers’ depressive symptoms. Maternal depressive symptoms have a pernicious effect on women’s ability to function effectively as a mother. This study expands the concept of mothers’ ‘social connectedness’ to include mothers’ perception of their communities’ support capital.
Methods 612 mothers were recruited to participate in this cross sectional study from 11 community general paediatric practices. Social capital was assessed using the Social Capital Scale (SCS) and mothers’ depressive symptoms were assessed using the Centre for Epidemiologic Depression Scale (CESD). The SCS has five factors. The local IRB approved this study.
Results About 3/4 of mothers were married or had a live in partner, 2/3 were white, median family income was $30,000, mothers’ average years of school was 13 years. The total SCS score and scores for each of the five factors were all significantly inversely correlated (Spearman) with total score and the CESD (p = 0.0001). Total CESD and total SCS (r = -0.275). Belonging to the community factor was slightly stronger (r = -302) than total SCS. While statistically significant, the remaining four factors all had correlations with the total CESD of around -0.2 or less.
Conclusions This study found that, beyond mothers’ personal social network, a sense of belonging to the community is an important factor associated with mothers’ depressive symptoms. Future studies should include longitudinal assessments of social capital and depressive symptoms to understand better the relation among personal social support, community social capital and depressive symptoms over time.