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Child Abuse Negl. 2008 Jul;32(7):693-701. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2007.10.004. Epub 2008 Jul 7.

Association between self-reported health and physical and/or sexual abuse experienced before age 18.

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Human Development and Family Science, The Ohio State University, 135 Campbell Hall, 1787 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.



The present study evaluated the association between women's health and physical and sexual abuse suffered before age 18.


A total of 3,568 randomly sampled insured women ages 18-64 completed a telephone interview to assess history of physical only, sexual only, or both physical and sexual abuse before age 18 (Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System); and current health (Short Form-36, Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression, Presence of Symptoms surveys). Adjusted analyses compared the health of women with physical abuse only, sexual abuse only, or physical and sexual abuse to the health of women without these abuse histories.


Poorest health status was observed in women with a history of both physical and sexual child abuse compared to women without these abuse histories. In models that adjusted for age and income, women with both abuse types had increased prevalence of depression (prevalence ratio, 2.16), severe depression (PR, 2.84), physical symptoms (PR range, 1.33 for joint pain to 2.78 for nausea/vomiting), fair/poor health (PR, 1.84), and lower SF-36 scores (3.15-5.40 points lower). Women with physical abuse only or sexual abuse only also had higher prevalence of symptoms and lower SF-36 scores but the associations were not as strong.


This study adds to the literature showing a graded association between multiple adverse events in childhood and adult health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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