Childhood abuse types and physical health at the age of 24: Testing health risk behaviors and psychological distress as mediators

Nina Beck*, Sabina Palic, Tonny E. Andersen, Stine Roenholt

*Corresponding author for this work
7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study examines whether adult psychological distress and health risk behaviors mediate the relationship between childhood abuse and physical health in adulthood. A randomly selected population-based sample, with oversampling to include a one-third subgroup of former child protection cases, completed a structured interview. Questions pertained to childhood exposure to abuse, adult psychological distress, physical health, and health risk behaviors. Previous research using this sample had identified three abuse typologies: emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and polyvictimization (physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect). All three typologies were significantly associated with poorer self-reported physical health. Psychological distress and health risk behaviors partially mediated the relationship between nonabuse, sexual abuse, polyvictimization, and physical health, and fully mediated the relationship between emotional abuse and physical health. The results of this study indicate that health risk behaviors and symptoms of psychological distress could contribute to some of the long-lasting consequences of childhood abuse on adult physical health.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma
Volume23
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)400-413
Number of pages14
ISSN1092-6771
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Childhood abuse
  • Health risk behaviors
  • Physical health
  • Psychological distress

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