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Child Abuse Negl. 2019 Feb 6;90:43-51. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2019.01.018. [Epub ahead of print]

Mindfulness and trauma symptoms predict child abuse potential in risk-exposed, men and women during pregnancy.

Author information

1
Wayne State University, School of Social Work, Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute, 5447 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI, 48202, USA. Electronic address: laurel.hicks@wayne.edu.
2
Wayne State University, School of Social Work, Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute, 5447 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI, 48202, USA. Electronic address: Carolyn.dayton@wayne.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Nearly a third of adults report childhood trauma in their youth and approximately 700,000 cases of child maltreatment were reported in 2016. Both history of childhood trauma and current trauma symptoms in adults are linked to child maltreatment, although many trauma-exposed individuals are warm and nurturing parents. Identifying resiliency factors in adults with risk factors for harsh parenting may illuminate new pathways to sensitive parenting. Mindfulness is reported to improve trauma and mental health symptoms but the relationship between mindfulness, trauma, and child abuse potential is not yet understood.

OBJECTIVE:

This cross-sectional study investigated the relationship between mindfulness, childhood trauma experiences, trauma symptoms and child abuse potential.

PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING:

Our participants were 102 expectant parents recruiting from obstetric clinics and agencies Detroit, MI (58.8% African American, 27.5% Caucasian).

METHOD:

Bivariate correlations were examined using validated, self-report questionnaires. Significant variables were included in a hierarchical linear regression to identify predicting factors that contribute to child abuse potential scores.

RESULTS:

Significant correlations between child abuse potential with current trauma symptoms (r = .53, p < .01) and mindfulness (r = -.32, p < .01) were found, but no link with past childhood trauma experiences and child abuse potential were identified. The model significantly predicts child abuse potential (ΔR2 = .10, F(5, 96), = 12.48, p < .001). Trauma symptoms (B = .09, p <  .001, 95% confidence interval [CI][-.40, -.07]) and mindfulness nonreactivity (B = -.24, p <  .01, 95% CI[.05, .14]) predicted higher potential for child abuse scores.

CONCLUSION:

Findings suggest increased mindfulness, especially nonreactivity to one's own thoughts, may be an important factor to protect against child abuse potential. Interventions to increase parental mindfulness may reduce child abuse potential and improve child well-being, but further mechanistic research is needed to determine this.

KEYWORDS:

Antenatal; Child abuse; Fathers; Mindfulness; Prenatal; Trauma

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