Brown et al (1986)

A detailed description of the Brown et al study in terms of aims, procedure, results and conclusions.

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  • Brown et al (1986)
    • 'Social support, self-esteem and depression'
      • Considered only women
      • Used interviewing techniques
    • To see whether crisis support protects against the onset of depression even if there is low self esteem and a lack of general support.
      • To see if a lack of support and low self esteem are vulnerability factors for depression
        • To see if support from a husband, partner or close relationship reduces the risk of depression
    • Took place in Islington, North London
      • The study used a prospective design - A longitudinal study was started when the participants were not affected by depression which allows risk factors to be studied.
    • Studied women whose husbands  worked in manual occupations, had atleast one child under the age of 18 and were between 18 and 50.
      • Women were sent a letter by their GP asking if they were willing to take part - Self selecting sample
        • 435 women were found and a number of them were randomly selected to participate - 91% of the initial response so 395 women in total were used in the first stage of the study.
    • At first contact self esteem and personal ties were measured and psychiatric history was collected
      • The second phase, a year later, collected data about the onset of any psychiatric disorder in the twelve months following first contact
        • Also used measures of live event stress and social support.
          • Measures were carried out by experienced interviewers - tests for reliability with 60 women interviewed intensively and 21 used in the reliability study.
            • Of the 21 women, 11 were seen by two interviewers and then rated by a second person using tapes of the original interviews and inter-rata reliability was found.
    • 50 participants were found to be depressed when first contacted were excluded from the follow up study a year later as researchers were only interested in new cases of depression to find causation factors.
    • 353 women agreed to the follow up interview a year later although 50 were excluded due to existing depression so 303 women were analysed.
      • About half of these women had experienced a severe life event or major difficulty at some point in the previous 12 months and 32 of the women had the onset of depression.
        • 29 of the 32 women had experienced a major life event six months prior to developing depression.
          • Only 23% of women without depression had experienced such an event.
    • 33% of those who developed depression had negative self evaluation and 13% did not.
    • It was concluded that those who had a husband or other close tie had a lower chance of the onset of depression.
      • Those women who were married and confided in their husbands but were let down by a lack of support  at a crisis point had an increased risk of developing depression
        • Low self esteem is implicated in the onset of depression after a provoking agent
          • A provoking agent is necessary for the development of depression in most cases.


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