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Child Abuse Negl. 2014 Mar;38(3):445-56. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2014.01.009. Epub 2014 Feb 27.

The relationship between adult health and childhood maltreatment, as moderated by anger and ethnic background.

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  • 1Mercy College, 555 Broadway, Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522, USA.


Childhood maltreatment, anger, and racial/ethnic background were examined in relation to physical health, psychological well-being, and blood pressure outcomes. This study used data from a diverse sample of African American, Latino, and Caucasian participants (N=198). Results from a series of multiple regressions indicated anger and total childhood maltreatment were robust predictors of poorer health. Although correlational analyses found maltreatment from the mother and father were associated with poorer health outcomes, when considered as part of the regression models, only a relationship between maltreatment from the mother and physical health was found. Greater anger scores were linked with lower blood pressure, particularly systolic blood pressure. Generally, more psychological and physical symptom reporting was found with greater anger scores, and higher levels of total maltreatment also predicted physical symptoms. The pattern of interactions indicated anger was more detrimental for African American participant's (and marginally so for Latino participant's) physical health. Interestingly, interactions also indicated total childhood maltreatment was related to fewer symptoms for Latino participants. Although child maltreatment may be viewed as a moral and/or human rights issue, this study provides evidence that it can also be viewed as a public health issue. Our study demonstrated that known health risk factors such as anger and maltreatment may operate in a different pattern dependent on ethnic/cultural background. The findings suggest health and health disparities research would benefit from greater exploration of the differential impact of certain moderating variables based on racial/ethnic background.


Anger; Blood pressure; Childhood maltreatment; Physical health; Psychological well-being

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