Long-term depression and suicidal ideation outcomes subsequent to emancipation from foster care: Pathways to psychiatric risk in the Métis population

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Psychiatry Research, 215(2): 347-354

Major depressive episode (MDE) and suicidal ideation (SI) associated with history of foster care placement (HxFCP), and mediating effects of psychosocial and socioeconomic factors through which placement may confer psychiatric risks in the years subsequent to emancipation were examined in a national sample of 7534 Métis. More than one third of emancipated respondents reported past year MDE, a prevalence rate nearly 50% higher than the rate of MDE among Métis respondents without a history of placement in foster care. The 25% lifetime prevalence rate of SI in the emancipated group was more than twice the rate observed in the non-fostered group. Direct effects of HxFCP on post placement MDE and SI were significant in multivariate logistic regression analyses, even when effects of childhood predispositional risk factors were controlled statistically. Emancipated individuals were unduly affected by psychosocial and socioeconomic disadvantages signifying pathways that linked foster care placement history and psychiatric status. Main mediators of the effects demonstrated using effect decomposition procedures were self-esteem, income, and community adversity. The findings warrant consideration of foster care history in clarifying the complex etiologies of suicidal ideation and major depressive episode in the Métis population and risk factors ensuing in the intervening years as integral to the process linking placement to long-term psychiatric outcomes.

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