Father involvement, couple relationship quality, and maternal Postpartum Depression: the role of ethnicity among low-income families

Ying Zhang, Rachel Razza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objectives: Maternal postpartum depression (PPD) has been recognized as a serious and wide-spread mental health disorder that has long-term negative impacts on children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. This study extends prior research by examining the associations among predictors of PPD, including two different facets of father involvement and couple relationship quality, with a focus on testing these pathways across ethnic groups. Method: This study analyzed data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) including mothers’ baseline interviews and one-year follow-up data sets (n = 2,794). Several models were tested using bootstrapping in structural equation modeling to explore the mediating paths and ethnic differences. Results: This study found that father involvement in sharing childcare responsibility had direct effects on reducing mothers’ parenting stress and promoted maternal psychological adjustment, which was consistent across the three ethnic groups. The mediation pathways through couple relationship quality between father involvement (both father involvement in direct infant care and shared responsibilities) and PPD were detected significant for Black and white mothers. Conclusions for Practice: This study provided empirical evidence that father involvement in infant care is critical for mothers’ perceived relationship quality. Maternal postpartum mental health may benefit from interventions and policies that encourage positive father engagement in infant care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1424-1433
Number of pages10
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Couple relationship quality
  • Ethnicity
  • Father involvement
  • Low-income families
  • Postpartum depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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