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Relationship Between Child Abuse, Parental Divorce, and Lifetime Mental Disorders and Suicidality in a Nationally Representative Adult Sample

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 33 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2009 Pages: 139-147
Tracie O. Afifi; Jonathan Boman; William Fleisher; Jitender Sareen
Date Published
March 2009
9 pages
This study explored the relationship of child abuse and parental divorce to long-term mental health outcomes.
Results indicate that experiencing parental divorce during childhood is associated with increased odds of child abuse and poor mental health outcomes in adult samples. The main novel finding from the study indicates that in a nationally representative adult sample, the relationships between child abuse and some individual lifetime psychiatric disorders were significantly elevated when accompanied with parental divorce after adjusting for sociodemographic variables. Having experienced both parental divorce and child abuse together resulted in significantly increased odds for lifetime post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and conduct disorder compared to having experienced either parental divorce or child abuse alone. When further adjusting for reported parental psychopathology, the additive effects of parental divorce and child abuse on lifetime PTSD and conduct disorder were attenuated. This finding highlights the potential role that parental psychopathology and additional childhood adversity may have on the relationship between child abuse, parental divorce, and lifetime psychiatric disorders among offspring. Data were collected from 5,877 respondents age 15-54 who participated in the original National Comorbidity Survey (NCS) in the early 1990s. Tables and references