Youth Depression and Perceived Social Support From Parents: A Meta-Analysis of Gender and Stress-Related Differences

Sandra Yu Rueger, Yoonsun Pyun, Samantha Coyle, Jessica Wimmer, Lauren B. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The current meta-analysis investigates the parental support–youth depression association and whether this association varies by gender and stress. Studies published from 1983 to February 2021 were gathered via electronic search in six databases and a hand search of 14 journals. Studies that measured support from parents and youth depression were included. Depression intervention studies and studies that measured constructs conceptually distinct from social support were excluded. Using a random-effects model, the overall effect size based on 170 studies on N = 114,674 participants was r =.27 (p <.001). Cross-sectional results supported the general benefits model with no evidence of parent gender differences, but results showed stronger associations between depression and support from parents as a unit compared to either mothers or fathers alone. Crosssectional results also showed larger effect sizes for girls compared to boys in the association between depression and support from parents and mothers. However, there was no evidence for parent or youth gender differences in any of the longitudinal analyses. A significant cross-sectional dampening effect of stress on maternal/paternal support for both boys and girls was uncovered but disappeared in longitudinal analyses, and stress-buffering effects of parental support emerged over time in longitudinal analyses. Bidirectional analyses demonstrated parent and child effects with no youth gender differences. Sensitivity analyses showed little evidence of publication bias or historical influences. Limitations include lack of information about support type and developmental differences. Results underscore the importance of including both mothers and fathers in depression prevention and intervention efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)710-740
Number of pages31
JournalPsychological Bulletin
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - 2022


  • depression
  • general benefits
  • parental support
  • stress dampening
  • stress-buffering


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