Associations Between the Family Emotional Climate and Child Behavioral Outcomes Among Low-Income African-American and Hispanic Women and Their Preschool-Aged Children

Alicia L Thomas, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Individual quality of life can be affected by romantic partner relationship quality, as well as individual health functioning. Poor relationship quality can be influenced by or manifest in both physical problems and mental health conditions such as depression. Particularly in families, these challenges can affect individual functioning, interpersonal relationships, the quality of caregiving provided to children, and shape people’s interactions with the world outside of their homes. The environment in which parents raise their children, and behaviors and emotions to which they subject them, can also have a powerful influence on the behaviors children display. An examination of the associations between parental romantic partner relationship quality, depressive symptoms, and family emotional expressiveness (together, considered the “family emotional climate”) and their influences on behavioral outcomes in children were examined for 236 low-income African American and Hispanic mothers and their preschool-aged children. The study included a systematic review conducted to uncover whether the patterns of association between partner relationship quality and depression – specifically, among maternal caregivers – differ for ethnic minority populations (groups not traditionally included in empirical research on these topics to date); analyses of the relations between romantic partner relationship quality and maternal depressive symptoms among the selected sample of mothers; and analyses of the family emotional climate variables and their influence on behavioral outcomes among the children of the selected sample of mothers. Overall, the findings of the systematic review and the analyses of the key variables for the selected sample supported previous findings of significant associations between the variables among primarily homogeneous white populations, even after adjusting for potential confounders. However, while some studies include representative samples of ethnic minorities, there remains a gap in empirical study examinations based specifically on ethnicity. Therefore, while evidence exists that relations between family emotional climate variables and maternal and child health outcomes appear consistent in mixed ethnic group studies, future empirical research is needed to directly examine the experiences of varied ethnic groups and identify potential differences that may exist in outcomes across groups.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Thomas, Alicia L, "Associations Between the Family Emotional Climate and Child Behavioral Outcomes Among Low-Income African-American and Hispanic Women and Their Preschool-Aged Children" (2017). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI10615905.