Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Buffering effects of safe, supportive, and nurturing relationships among women with childhood histories of maltreatment

  • S. R Jaffee (a1), R. Takizawa (a2) (a3) (a4) and L. Arseneault (a4)

Abstract

Background

Adults who were victims of childhood maltreatment tend to have poorer health compared with adults who did not experience abuse. However, many are in good health. We tested whether safe, supportive, and nurturing relationships buffer women with a history of childhood maltreatment from poor health outcomes in later life.

Methods

Participants included women from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study who were involved in an intimate relationship at some point by the time their twin children were 10 years old. Women were initially interviewed in 1999–2000 (mean age = 33 years) and 2, 5, and 7 years later. They reported on their physical and mental health, and their health-risk behaviours.

Results

Compared with women who did not experience abuse in childhood, women with histories of maltreatment were at elevated risk for mental, physical, and health-risk behaviours, including major depressive disorder, sleep, and substance use problems. Cumulatively, safe, supportive, and nurturing relationships characterized by a lack of violence, emotional intimacy, and social support buffered women with a history of maltreatment from poor health outcomes.

Conclusions

Our findings emphasize that negative social determinants of health – such as a childhood history of maltreatment – confer risk for psychopathology and other physical health problems. If, however, a woman's current social circumstances are sufficiently positive, they can promote good health, particularly in the face of past adversity.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: L. Arseneault, Ph.D., Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, Box Number P080, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK. (Email: louise.arseneault@kcl.ac.uk)

References

Hide All
Achenbach, TM (1997). Manual for the Young Adult Self-Report and Young Adult Behavior Checklist. University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry: Burlington, VT.
Afifi, TO, Mota, NP, Dasiewicz, P, MacMillan, HL, Sareen, J (2012). Physical punishment and mental disorders: results from a nationally representative US sample. Pediatrics 130, 184192.
Alley, DE, Asomugha, CN, Conway, PH, Sanghavi, DM (2016). Accountable health communities – addressing social needs through Medicare and Medicaid. New England Journal of Medicine 374, 811.
APA (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of MentalDisorders, 4th edn. American Psychiatric Publishing Inc.: Washington, DC.
Bernstein, D, Fink, L (1998). Childhood Trauma Questionnaire Manual. The Psychological Corporation: San Antonio, TX.
Bernstein, DP, Ahluvalia, T, Pogge, D, Handelsman, L (1997). Validity of the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire in an adolescent psychiatric population. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 36, 340348.
Bernstein, DP, Stein, JA, Newcomb, MD, Walker, E, Pogge, D, Ahluvalia, T, Stokes, J, Handelsman, L, Medrano, M, Desmond, D, Zule, W (2003). Development and validation of a brief screening version of the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Child Abuse & Neglect 27, 169190.
Bickel, G, Nord, M, Price, C, Hamilton, W, Cook, J (2000). Guide to Measuring Household Food Insecurity: Revised 2000. United States Department of Agriculture Food & Nutrition Service. Office of Research and Analysis: Alexandria, VA.
Brody, GH, Yu, T, Chen, YF, Kogan, SM, Evans, GW, Beach, SR, Windle, M, Simons, RL, Gerrard, M, Gibbons, FX, Philibert, RA (2013). Cumulative socioeconomic status risk, allostatic load, and adjustment: a prospective latent profile analysis with contextual and genetic protective factors. Developmental Psychology 49, 913927.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014). Essentials for Childhood: Steps to create safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/essentials_for_childhood_framework.pdf
Cicchetti, D (2013). Annual research review: resilient functioning in maltreated children – past, present, and future perspectives. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry 54, 402422.
Cohen, P, Brown, J, Smaile, E (2001). Child abuse and neglect and the development of mental disorders in the general population. Developmental Psychopathology 13, 981999.
Cohen, S, Wills, TA (1985). Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin 98, 310357.
Collishaw, S, Pickles, A, Messer, J, Rutter, M, Shearer, C, Maughan, B (2007). Resilience to adult psychopathology following childhood maltreatment: evidence from a community sample. Child Abuse & Neglect 31, 211229.
Currie, J, Widom, CS (2010). Long-term consequences of child abuse and neglect on adult economic well-being. Child Maltreatment 15, 111120.
Danese, A, Moffitt, TE, Harrington, H, Milne, BJ, Polanczyk, G, Pariante, CM, Poulton, R, Caspi, A (2009). Adverse childhood experiences and adult risk factors for age-related disease: depression, inflammation, and clustering of metabolic risk markers. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 163, 11351143.
Dingfelder, HE, Jaffee, SR, Mandell, DS (2010). The impact of social support on depressive symptoms among adolescents in the child welfare system: a propensity score analysis. Children and Youth Services Review 32, 12551261.
Dong, M, Giles, WH, Felitti, VJ, Dube, SR, Williams, JE, Chapman, DP, Anda, RF (2004). Insights into causal pathways for ischemic heart disease: adverse childhood experiences study. Circulation 110, 17611766.
Dubowitz, H, Feigelman, S, Lane, W, Kim, J (2009). Pediatric primary care to help prevent child maltreatment: the Safe Environment for Every Kid (SEEK) model. Pediatrics 123, 858864.
Evans, GW, Li, DP, Whipple, SS (2013). Cumulative risk and child development. Psychological Bulletin 139, 13421396.
Fincham, FD (1998). Child development and marital relations. Child Development 69, 543574.
Fisher, HL, Caspi, A, Moffitt, TE, Wertz, J, Gray, R, Newbury, J, Ambler, A, Zavos, H, Danese, A, Mill, J, Odgers, CL, Pariante, C, Wong, CCY, Arseneault, L (2015). Measuring adolescents’ exposure to victimization: the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study. Developmental Psychopathology 27, 13991416.
Gandek, B, Ware, JE, Aaronson, NK, Apolone, G, Bjorner, JB, Brazier, JE, Bullinger, M, Kaasa, S, Leplege, A, Prieto, L, Sullivan, M (1998). Cross-validation of item selection and scoring for the SF-12 Health Survey in nine countries: results from the IQOLA project. International Quality of Life Assessment. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 51, 11711178.
Garg, A, Boynton-Jarrett, R, Dworkin, PH (2016). Avoiding the unintended consequences of screening for social determinants of health. JAMA 316, 813814.
Gilbert, R, Widom, CS, Browne, K, Fergusson, D, Webb, E, Janson, S (2009). Burden and consequences of child maltreatment in high-income countries. Lancet 373, 6881.
Gregory, AM, Moffitt, TE, Ambler, A, Arseneault, L, Houts, RM, Caspi, A (2012). Maternal insomnia and children's family socialization environments. Sleep 35, 579582.
Irish, L, Kobayashi, I, Delahanty, DL (2010). Long-term physical health consequences of childhood sexual abuse: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Pediatric Psychology 35, 450461.
Jaffee, SR, Bowes, L, Ouellet-Morin, I, Fisher, HL, Moffitt, TE, Merrick, MT, Arseneault, L (2013). Safe, stable, nurturing relationships break the intergenerational cycle of abuse: a prospective nationally representative cohort of children in the United Kingdom. Journal of Adolescent Health 53, S4S10.
Jaffee, SR, Caspi, A, Moffitt, TE, Polo-Tomas, M, Taylor, A (2007). Individual, family, and neighborhood factors distinguish resilient from non-resilient maltreated children: a cumulative stressors model. Child Abuse & Neglect 31, 231253.
Jaffee, SR, Moffitt, TE, Caspi, A, Taylor, A, Arseneault, L (2002). Influence of adult domestic violence on children's internalizing and externalizing problems: an environmentally informative twin study. Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry 41, 10951103.
Maxfield, MG, Widom, CS (1996). The cycle of violence. Revisited 6 years later. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medication 150, 390395.
Melchior, M, Caspi, A, Howard, LM, Ambler, AP, Bolton, H, Mountain, N, Moffitt, TE (2009). Mental health context of food insecurity: a representative cohort of families with young children. Pediatrics 124, e564e572.
Merrick, MT, Leeb, RT, Lee, RD (2013). Examining the role of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships in the intergenerational continuity of child maltreatment – introduction to the special issue. Journal of Adolescent Health 53, S1S3.
Midei, AJ, Matthews, KA, Chang, YF, Bromberger, JT (2013). Childhood physical abuse is associated with incident metabolic syndrome in mid-life women. Health Psychology 32, 121127.
Miller, TR (2015). Projected outcomes of Nurse-Family Partnership Home Visitation during 1996–2013, USA. Prevention Science 16, 765777.
Moffitt, TE, The E-Risk team (2002). Teen-aged mothers in contemporary Britain. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 43, 727742.
Myin-Germeys, I, Krabbendam, L, van Os, J (2003). Continuity of psychotic symptoms in the community. Current Opinions in Psychiatry 16, 443449.
Noll, JG, Zeller, MH, Trickett, PK, Putnam, FW (2007). Obesity risk for female victims of childhood sexual abuse: a prospective study. Pediatrics 120, e61e67.
Odgers, CL, Caspi, A, Bates, CJ, Sampson, RJ, Moffitt, TE (2012 b). Systematic social observation of children's neighborhoods using Google street view: a reliable and cost-effective method. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 53, 10091017.
Odgers, CL, Caspi, A, Russell, MA, Sampson, RJ, Arseneault, L, Moffitt, TE (2012 a). Supportive parenting mediates neighborhood socioeconomic disparities in children's antisocial behavior from ages 5 to 12. Developmental Psychopathology 24, 705721.
Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (1991). Standard Occupational Classification (Vols. 1–3). London: HMSO.
Pitzer, LM, Fingerman, KL (2010). Psychosocial resources and associations between childhood physical abuse and adult well-being. Journal of Gerontology series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 65, 425433.
Poulton, R, Caspi, A, Moffitt, TE, Cannon, M, Murray, R, Harrington, HL (2000). Children's self-reported psychotic symptoms and adult schizophreniform disorders: a 15-year longitudinal study. Archives of General Psychiatry 57, 10531058.
Reuben, A, Moffitt, TE, Caspi, A, Belsky, DW, Harrington, H, Schroeder, F, Hogan, S, Ramrakha, S, Poulton, R, Danese, A (2016). Lest we forget: comparing retrospective and prospective assessments of adverse childhood experiences in the prediction of adult health. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 57, 11031112. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12621
Robins, LN, Cottler, L, Bucholz, KK, Compton, W (1995). Diagnostic Interview Schedule for DSM-IV. Washington University School of Medicine: St. Louis, MO.
Scott, KM, Smith, DA, Ellis, PM (2012). A population study of childhood maltreatment and asthma diagnosis: differential associations between child protection database versus retrospective self-reported data. Psychosomatic Medicine 74, 817823.
Scott, KM, Smith, DR, Ellis, PM (2010). Prospectively ascertained child maltreatment and its association with DSM-IV mental disorders in young adults. Archives of General Psychiatry 67, 712719.
Selzer, ML, Vinokur, A, van Rooijen, L (1975). A self-administered Short Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (SMAST). Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 36, 117126.
Shaw, BA, Krause, N (2002). Exposure to physical violence during childhood, aging, and health. Journal of Aging and Health 14, 467494.
Simons, RL, Johnson, C (1996). The impact of marital and social network support on quality of parenting. In Handbook of Social Support and the Family (ed. Pierce, G. R., Sarason, B. R. and Sarason, I. G., pp. 269287. Springer: New York, NY.
Skinner, HA (1983). The drug abuse screening test. Addictive Behaviours 7, 363371.
StataCorp (2013). Stata Statistical Software: Release 13.1. StataCorp LP: College Station, TX.
Staudt, M, Cherry, D (2009). Mental health and substance use problems of parents of involved with child welfare: are services offered and provided? Psychiatric Services 60, 5660.
Straus, MA (1990). Measuring intrafamily conflict and violence: the Conflict Tactics (CT) scales. In Physical Violence in American Families: Risk Factors and Adaptations to Violence in 8,145 Families (ed. Straus, M. A. and Gelles, R. J.), pp. 403424. Transcation Press: New Brunswick, NJ.
Thornberry, TP, Henry, KL, Ireland, TO, Smith, CA (2010). The causal impact of childhood-limited maltreatment and adolescent maltreatment on early adult adjustment. Journal of Adolescent Health 46, 359365.
Trzesniewski, KH, Moffitt, TE, Caspi, A, Taylor, A, Maughan, B (2006). Revisiting the association between reading achievement and antisocial behavior: new evidence of an environmental explanation from a twin study. Child Development 77, 7288.
Wegman, HL, Stetler, C (2009). A meta-analytic review of the effects of childhood abuse on medical outcomes in adulthood. Psychosomatic Medicine 71, 805812.
Widom, CS (1999). Posttraumatic stress disorder in abused and neglected children grown up. American Journal of Psychiatry 156, 12231229.
Widom, CS, Czaja, SJ, Bentley, T, Johnson, MS (2012). A prospective investigation of physical health outcomes in abused and neglected children: new findings from a 30-year follow-up. American Journal of Public Health 102, 11351144.
Widom, CS, Czaja, SJ, Dutton, MA (2014). Child abuse and neglect and intimate partner violence victimization and perpetration: a prospective investigation. Child Abuse & Neglect 38, 650663.
Widom, CS, Czaja, SJ, Paris, J (2009). A prospective investigation of borderline personality disorder in abused and neglected children followed up into adulthood. Journal of Personality Disorders 23, 433446.
Widom, CS, DuMont, K, Czaja, SJ (2007). A prospective investigation of major depressive disorder and comorbidity in abused and neglected children grown up. Archives of General Psychiatry 64, 4956.
Widom, CS, Ireland, T, Glynn, PJ (1995). Alcohol abuse in abused and neglected children followed-up: are they at increased risk? Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 56, 207217.
Widom, CS, Shepard, RL (1996). Accuracy of adult recollections of childhood victimization: Part 1. Childhood physical abuse. Psychological Assessment 8, 412421.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed