ECU research shows involved grandfathers experience less depression

Grandfathers who are more involved with their grandchildren have fewer symptoms of depression than grandfathers who are less involved, according to a new study by East Carolina University researcher Alan C. Taylor.


Taylor, an assistant professor in ECU’s Department of Child Development and Family Relations, and co-author James S. Bates of South Dakota State University, “Grandfather Involvement and Aging Men’s Mental Health, which found that grandfather-grandchild relationships influence aging men’s mental health. The study was published in the American Journal of Men’s Health.

“There is evidence that the quality of family relationships has preclusive effects on depressive symptoms and beneficial impacts on positive affect (feelings of happiness and joy),” the authors reported.

“There have been very few studies investigating the mental health of aging men,” Taylor said, “and this study contributes important insights into how relationships between grandfathers and grandchildren are valuable to men’s mental health.”

The study examines the depressive symptoms and positive affect of 351 grandfathers. Participants were classified as “involved,” “passive,” and “disengaged” based on their frequency of contact, level of commitment and participation in activities with grandchildren.

Taylor and Bates said the findings suggest the men who have limited interaction with their grandchildren have the highest risk for developing depressive symptoms.

The research also indicates that grandfathers experiencing depressive symptoms are less likely to initiate social interaction and may thus further isolate themselves from grandchildren and other family members.

The full text of the article “Grandfather Involvement and Aging Men’s Mental Health” can be read at online at