Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Public Health. 1994 Oct;84(10):1586-90.

Alcohol and drug disorders among physically abusive and neglectful parents in a community-based sample.

Author information

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock.



The purpose of this study was to compare the frequency of substance use disorders and symptoms between adults reporting child physical abuse or neglect and individually matched control subjects in a community sample.


In a nested case-control study, 169 adults reporting physical abuse of a child and 209 adults reporting neglect of a child from 11,662 individuals successfully interviewed in a probabilistic survey in four communities were individually matched with control subjects drawn from the participants. Case subjects were compared with control subjects on the number of alcohol- or drug-related symptoms and disorder diagnoses as determined by symptoms from the Diagnostic Interview Schedule.


Respondents reporting either physical abuse or neglect of children were much more likely than their matched control subjects to report substance abuse or dependence. These differences persisted after potential confounding variables were controlled for.


Parental substance abuse and dependence, independent of confounding factors, are highly associated with child maltreatment. Inconsistent results in previous studies may have arisen from reliance on referred samples and unstandardized assessment methods. Agencies involved in the care of abused or neglected children and their families should consider incorporating routine substance abuse evaluations with treatment, or referral for treatment, where indicated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center