Document Type


Publication Date



Objective: The current study examines how maternal depressive symptoms relate to child psychopathology when structured via the latent bifactor model of psychopathology, a new organizational structure of psychopathological symptoms consisting of a general common psychopathology factor (p-factor) and internalizing- and externalizing-specific risk.

Method: Maternal report of depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory – II) and child psychopathological symptoms (Child Behavior Checklist and Children’s Behavior Questionnaire) were provided by 554 mother-child pairs. Children in the sample were 7.7 years old on average (SD = 1.35, range = 5–11 years), and were 49.8% female, 46% Latinx, and 67% White, 6% Black, 5% Asian/Pacific Islander, and 21% multiracial.

Results: Maternal depressive symptoms were positively associated with the child p-factor but not with the internalizing- or externalizing-specific factors. We did not find evidence of sex/gender or race/ethnicity moderation when using latent factors of psychopathology. Consistent with past research, maternal depressive symptoms were positively associated with internalizing and externalizing composite scores on the Child Behavior Checklist.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that maternal depressive symptoms are associated with transdiagnostic risk for broad child psychopathology (p-factor). Whereas the traditional Achenbach-style approach of psychopathological assessment suggests that maternal depressive symptoms are associated with both child internalizing and externalizing problems, the latent bifactor model suggests that these associations may be accounted for by risk pathways related to the p-factor rather than internalizing or externalizing specific risk. We discuss clinical and research implications of using a latent bifactor structure of psychopathology to understand how maternal depression may impact children’s mental health.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology in 2020, available online at It may differ slightly from the final version of record.


Taylor & Francis



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.