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Br J Psychiatry. 2010 Nov;197(5):378-85. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.110.080499.

Childhood adversities and adult psychopathology in the WHO World Mental Health Surveys.

Author information

  • 1Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, 180 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA. kessler@hcp.med.harvard.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Although significant associations of childhood adversities with adult mental disorders are widely documented, most studies focus on single childhood adversities predicting single disorders.

AIMS:

To examine joint associations of 12 childhood adversities with first onset of 20 DSM-IV disorders in World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys in 21 countries.

METHOD:

Nationally or regionally representative surveys of 51 945 adults assessed childhood adversities and lifetime DSM-IV disorders with the WHO Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).

RESULTS:

Childhood adversities were highly prevalent and interrelated. Childhood adversities associated with maladaptive family functioning (e.g. parental mental illness, child abuse, neglect) were the strongest predictors of disorders. Co-occurring childhood adversities associated with maladaptive family functioning had significant subadditive predictive associations and little specificity across disorders. Childhood adversities account for 29.8% of all disorders across countries.

CONCLUSIONS:

Childhood adversities have strong associations with all classes of disorders at all life-course stages in all groups of WMH countries. Long-term associations imply the existence of as-yet undetermined mediators.

PMID:
21037215
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2966503
Free PMC Article
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