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J Trauma Stress. 2013 Aug;26(4):435-42. doi: 10.1002/jts.21833. Epub 2013 Jul 25.

Synergistic childhood adversities and complex adult psychopathology.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

Abstract

Numerous studies find a cumulative effect of different types of childhood adversities on increasing risk for serious adult mental and medical outcomes. This study uses the National Comorbidity Survey-Replication sample to investigate the cumulative impact of 8 childhood adversities on complex adult psychopathology as indexed by (a) number of lifetime diagnoses according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association, 1994); (b) number of 4 DSM-IV disorder categories (mood, anxiety, impulse control, and substance abuse disorders); and (c) coexistence of internalizing and externalizing disorders. Seven of the 8 childhood adversities were significantly associated with complex adult psychopathology. Individuals with 4 or more childhood adversities had an odds ratio of 7.3, 95% confidence interval [4.7, 11.7] for 4 disorder categories. Additive and multiplicative synergistic effects increasing adult psychopathology were found for specific pairwise combinations of childhood adversities. Synergistic patterns differed by gender suggesting that women are more impacted by sexual abuse and men by economic hardship. The absence of childhood adversities was protective, in that it significantly decreased an individual's risk for subsequent adult mental illness. The results support the clinical impression that increased childhood adversity is associated with more complex adult psychopathology.

PMID:
23893545
DOI:
10.1002/jts.21833
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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