Severity of mental illness as a result of multiple childhood adversities: US National Epidemiologic Survey

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Abstract

Purpose
To examine patterns of childhood adversity, their long-term consequences and the combined effect of different childhood adversity patterns as predictors of subsequent psychopathology.

Methods
Secondary analysis of data from the US National Epidemiologic Survey on alcohol and related conditions. Using latent class analysis to identify childhood adversity profiles; and using multinomial logistic regression to validate and further explore these profiles with a range of associated demographic and household characteristics. Finally, confirmatory factor analysis substantiated initial latent class analysis findings by investigating a range of mental health diagnoses.

Results
Latent class analysis generated a three-class model of childhood adversity in which 60 % of participants were allocated to a low adversity class; 14 % to a global adversities class (reporting exposures for all the derived latent classes); and 26 % to a domestic emotional and physical abuse class (exposed to a range of childhood adversities). Confirmatory Factor analysis defined an internalising-externalising spectrum to represent lifetime reporting patterns of mental health disorders. Using logistic regression, both adversity groups showed specific gender and race/ethnicity differences, related family discord and increased psychopathology.

Conclusions
We identified underlying patterns in the exposure to childhood adversity and associated mental health. These findings are informative in their description of the configuration of adversities, rather than focusing solely on the cumulative aspect of experience. Amelioration of longer-term negative consequences requires early identification of psychopathology risk factors that can inform protective and preventive interventions. This study highlights the utility of screening for childhood adversities when individuals present with symptoms of psychiatric disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-657
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Volume51
Issue number5
Early online date7 Mar 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2016

Keywords

  • Childhood adversity
  • Internalising
  • Externalising
  • Mental illness
  • Latent class analysis

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