The Relation between Childhood Adverse Experiences and Disability Due to Mental Health Problems in a Community Sample of Women Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to examine the association between selected childhood adverse experiences and disability due to mental health problems in a community sample of women. Variables of interest included childhood physical and sexual abuse, parental psychiatric and substance abuse history, and sociodemographic factors. METHOD: Girls and women (aged 15 to 64 years) from a province-wide community sample (n = 4239) were asked about disability and most childhood adverse experiences through interview; a self-administered questionnaire inquired about child abuse. Logistic regression (crude and adjusted odds ratios) was used to test the associations between childhood adversity and disability due to mental health problems. RESULTS: Approximately 3% of the women had a disability due to mental health problems. Among women with a disability, about 50% had been abused while growing up. After controlling for income and age, we found that disability showed the strongest association with childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, and parental psychiatric disorder. CONCLUSION: Disability due to mental health problems was experienced by women with and without exposure to abuse in childhood. However, childhood sexual abuse and physical abuse were important correlates of disability. Disability creates suffering and loss for the individual and society; this issue merits more research in relation to child abuse.

publication date

  • October 2005