Childhood adversities among students at an English University: A latent class analysis

Emma Davies, M Shevlin, John Read

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

University students routinely participate in research, including research on trauma and adversity, but the unique implications of trauma and adversity for educational and developmental outcomes for this group have received less attention. This study surveyed first year undergraduate students at an urban university located in the most ethnically diverse district in England, with the second highest poverty rate. Of approximately 7,825 students, 858 responded; a response rate of 11%. The survey included thirteen questions about adverse circumstances before age 18. Four in five students (79%) reported at least one adversity, 51% reported three or more, and 20% reported at least six. Female students reported a higher mean number of adversities than men, but men were significantly more likely to report having been ‘attacked, stabbed, shot or robbed by threat’. Where comparisons were possible, rates were higher than for the general population or for the only other UK university survey. A Latent Class Analysis produced four groupings. Besides the ’No adversity’ (36%) and ‘Intermediate’ (46%) classes, there were two ‘High adversity’ groups, differentiated by high (12%) or moderate (6%) adversities related to cohabitation (parental separation, lived with depressed person, lived with alcohol/drug user, and lived with incarcerated person). Higher rates of adversities, and latent class membership, were related to predictions that one would not complete one’s degree. Implications and next steps are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Trauma and Dissociation
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 26 Feb 2021

Keywords

  • childhood adversities
  • child abuse
  • child neglect
  • trauma-informed
  • universities

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