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Psychol Violence. 2011 Apr 1;1(2):106-120.

Childhood Abuse and Current Health Problems among Older Adults: The Mediating Role of Self-Efficacy.

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Department of Psychology Florida State University.



Child abuse has negative consequences on health functioning and the self-concept. Prior studies have garnered support for these relationships in younger adults; yet few studies have looked at the effects of abuse on health in older adults and the psychosocial variables, specifically self-efficacy, that may influence the abuse-health relationship.


Data obtained from the Physical Health and Disability Study were used to explore the impact of child abuse on current medical problems among older adults who were screened on physical disability status (N=1396, Mean age = 67, SD = 10.2). The study was conducted in South Florida and employed a multiethnic sample that is representative of the general population in this area.


Child abuse was associated with the number of current medical problems and disability. Child abuse was also related to lower self-efficacy, and self-efficacy explained the relationship between abuse and the number of health problems.


There are far reaching effects of child abuse on older adults' health and self-concept. Health care providers and gerontologists need to be aware that child abuse is a life-long risk factor for increased disability and specific health problems, especially among the elderly. Future research should examine treatments designed to increase self-efficacy, especially among those who experienced child abuse, and observe any positive effects on health functioning.

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