Childhood abuse and neglect and self-reported symptoms of psychopathology through midlife

Faith VanMeter, Marissa D Nivison, Michelle M. Englund, Elizabeth A. Carlson, Glenn I. Roisman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Although abuse and neglect in the early years of life have been reliably linked to poor mental health outcomes in childhood, only a few studies have examined whether the predictive significance of childhood abuse and neglect endures for symptoms of psychopathology into adulthood. Here we examined to what extent prospectively assessed child abuse and neglect is associated with self-reported symptoms of psychopathology measured from ages 23 through 39 years, controlling for early demographic covariates and self-reported symptoms of psychopathology measured at age 16 years. The sample included 140 participants from the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation. Participants were 49% female and 69% White/non-Hispanic. At the time of their child's birth, 48% of the mothers were teenagers (M = 20.5 years, SD = 3.74), 65% were single, and 42% had completed less than a high school education. Results indicated that childhood abuse and neglect was robustly associated with symptoms of psychopathology in adulthood. Exploratory analyses focusing on specific parametrizations of abuse/neglect suggested that abuse perpetrated by maternal figures (rather than paternal or nonparental figures) was uniquely associated with high levels of self-reported symptoms of psychopathology in adulthood. We found no evidence that any subtype of abuse and/or neglect or abuse/neglect during any particular phase of development uniquely predicted symptoms of psychopathology after controlling for relevant covariates. These results highlight the long-lasting significance of childhood abuse and neglect for reports of mental health in adulthood. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)824-836
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Volume57
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2021

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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