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Zhonghua Er Ke Za Zhi. 2006 Sep;44(9):688-93.

[Correlation between psychopathological symptoms, coping style in adolescent and childhood repeated physical, emotional maltreatment].

[Article in Chinese]

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  • 1Department of Maternal and Child Health, School of Public Health, Anhui Medical University, Hefei 230032, China.



To study possible relationship between psychopathological symptoms, positive and negative coping styles in adolescents who experienced repeated serious childhood physical abuse (CPA), moderate CPA, and childhood emotional abuse (CEA).


A total of 5453 students were recruited as subjects from 9 middle schools at grades 7, 8, 10, and 11. They provided informed consent and participated in the self-administered anonymous survey on their frequencies of serious or moderate physical abuse and emotional abuse by his/her parents or other caregivers about average times of experiencing maltreatment every year during primary school. The Symptoms Checklist 90 (SCL-90) was used to rate general mental problem and 9 special psychopathological symptoms. The trait positive and negative coping styles were assessed with the Trait Coping Style Questionnaire (TCSQ). Totally 5141 respondents substantially completed surveys. It was defined as repeating childhood maltreatment that the adolescent reported he/she had suffered 3 or more episodes of one or more forms of serious CPA, moderate CPA, and CEA. Multinomial logistic regression model was used to analyze the effect of the types and quantities of repeating childhood experiences on mental health when the positive, negative coping styles, and both of them entered the statistics model, taking the demographic variables as covariates.


Of respondents, 9.1 percent were rated as having general mental health problem. The rates of somatization, obsession, interpersonal susceptivity, depression, anxiety, phobia, paranoia, and psychotic symptoms were 1.3%, 3.6%, 3.6%, 2.8%, 2.2%, 4.0%, 2.1%, 2.8% and 1.6%, respectively. Dose-response trend existed between the number of items of repeating serious CPA, moderate CPA, CEA, and rates of general mental problems, 9 kinds of psychopathological symptoms, number of positive items of psychopathological symptoms. Compared with the respondents without serious CPA, moderate CPA or CEA, those with repeating childhood maltreatment had higher scores of negative coping styles. In the respondents with repeating childhood maltreatments, the prevalence of general mental problems and number of positive psychopathological symptoms increased with the rising of scores of negative coping styles. The results from multinomial logistic regression analysis showed that negative coping style decreased the odds ratio (OR) of repeating serious CPA, moderate CPA, and CEA with general mental health problems, but positive coping style did not.


The experiences of repeating childhood physical or emotional maltreatment are associated with a wide variety of psychopathological symptoms and general mental health problems. Negative coping strategies may moderate the links of childhood abusive experiences and mental problems.

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