Childhood depression is a serious problem and has long term implications including increased risk for suicide and comorbid conditions. In addition, depressed children are at greater risk for social difficulties, non-compliance to medical regime, and academic difficulties. Children undergoing a medical illness are at increased risk for developing depression, however, there have been few recent studies looking at emotional distress for this population. With thousands of children hospitalized every day, assessing for depressive symptoms is important in order to provide proper referrals and treatment recommendations following discharge. The purpose of the current study was to increase understanding of pediatric depression through analysis of the symptoms children report across various medical conditions.

This study included 54 children who were hospitalized for a medical condition at the Loma Linda Children’s Hospital. The Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) was used to assess for depressive symptomatology. Contrary to what was expected, the hospitalized children report significantly fewer symptoms related to negative mood, ineffectiveness, negative self-esteem, and total score on the CDI compared with the normative sample. Age and length of hospitalization did not significantly predict depressive symptoms. Males reported greater level of depressive symptoms related to feeling ineffective compared with females. With regards to medical conditions, children with a chronic condition reported significantly greater number of depressive symptoms related to negative self- esteem compared with children in the non-chronic group. Those children who experienced a traumatic event, reported significantly less symptoms of depression related to negative mood, anhedonia, negative self-esteem, and total depression score compared to the non-trauma group. The exploratory phase of this analysis looked at depressive symptoms across various medical diagnoses, which included tumor, orthopedic injury, congenital conditions, neurological conditions, and “other” diagnoses which included patients hospitalized due to self-inflicted injury. Results demonstrated that patients in the tumor group had significantly greater number of symptoms related to negative self-esteem then patients in the orthopedic injury group as well as the “other” group. Reasons for why children under stressful situations are not reporting depressive symptoms as anticipated should be explored in future studies.

LLU Discipline

Experimental Psychology




School of Science and Technology

First Advisor

Burley, Todd

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Depression in children; Depressive Disorder; Diagnosis



Page Count

93 p.

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses & Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives