Body mass index and anxiety/depression as mediators of the effects of child sexual and physical abuse on physical health disorders in women

Simon McCarthy-Jones*, Roseline McCarthy-Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The relation between childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and physical health disorders in adulthood, and what factors may serve as mediators, remains poorly understood. Using data from the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (. N=. 3,486), we tested whether CSA was associated with physical health disorders in adult women and if mediated effects via body mass index (BMI), anxiety/depression, alcohol dependence, and smoking were present. Compared to women with no CSA, women who had experienced CSA involving intercourse had more than twice the odds of being obese, more than 3 times the odds of experiencing mental health disorders, more than 4 times the odds of being alcohol dependent, more than 5 times the odds of being drug dependent, and more than 6 times the odds of attempting suicide. Those experiencing both CSA and child physical abuse (CPA) were on average over 11. kg heavier than those with neither CSA nor CPA. After controlling for demographics, CPA, and childhood bullying, CSA was associated with the majority of physical health disorders studied (typically 50-100% increases in odds). Evidence was found consistent with mediation by BMI (typically accounting for 5-20% increases in odds) and anxiety/depression (typically accounting for 8-40% increases in odds), in a dose-response manner, for the majority of physical health disorders. Bidirectional relations among these mediators and physical health disorders, and residual confounding, may have led to overestimation of mediation through BMI and anxiety/depression and underestimation of mediation through alcohol/smoking. Relations between both CPA and childhood bullying and physical health disorders in adulthood were also found. Longitudinal studies employing more sensitive measures of potential mediators are now required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2007-2020
Number of pages14
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume38
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014

Bibliographical note

Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • Bullying
  • Gender
  • Mediation
  • Medical disorders
  • Molestation
  • Rape
  • Suicide
  • Trauma

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