While there has been considerable interest in the problems of single parent families, no study has yet determined if the problems are due to increased risk of specific psychiatric disorders in single parents as compared to their married counterparts. Data collected as part of the National Institute of Mental Health Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) Project are presented to compare the psychiatric as well as economic and social functioning of single vs. married parent women ages 18-44, based on a probability sample of members of the greater New Haven community. The major finding between groups is their relative similarity in psychiatric as well as social functioning. The major difference is economic. Single parents, both Black and White, more frequently are less educated and poorer. While many are on welfare, single compared to married female parents are more likely to be working and to report insufficient income to meet their needs. There are no appreciable differences in social contacts, use of health services or six-month prevalence rates of psychiatric disorders including major depression, alcohol or drug abuse. The data suggest that the problems faced by single parent women and their children may be a reflection of poverty and stress in families and not of psychiatric disorders or poor social relations in mothers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health