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Am J Epidemiol. 2007 May 1;165(9):1031-8. Epub 2007 Feb 19.

Childhood abuse, adult health, and health care utilization: results from a representative community sample.

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  • 1Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.


The long-term consequences of childhood abuse on adult mental health have been a major focus of research. Much less attention has been directed to its effects on physical health outcomes. By use of data from the Ontario Health Survey (n = 9,953), the association between retrospective reports of childhood physical and sexual abuse and adult health and health care utilization was examined in men and women. The population health survey was conducted from November 1990 to March 1991 in the Canadian province of Ontario. An association of moderate strength was found between childhood abuse and multiple health problems, poor or fair self-rated health, pain that interferes with activities, disability due to physical health problems, and frequent emergency room and health professional visits but not frequent general practitioner visits. These effects were more pronounced in females and younger respondents. The strength of the associations reported here with odds ratios of 1.3-2.2 was lower than that found between childhood abuse and adult mental health, with odds ratios of 1.9-3.4. Given the growing evidence of the long-term effects of childhood abuse, greater efforts are clearly needed in developing more effective strategies for the prevention and treatment of child abuse.

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