Wednesday, July 11, 2007
This presentation is part of : Abuse in the Family: Proximal and Distal Effect
The role of parental verbal and non-severe physical child abuse in adult psychopathology
Thomas Hardie, EdD, APRN-BC, Department of Nursing, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA

Background:  Severe abuse during childhood has been demonstrated in clinical populations to increase risks of childhood and adult psychopathologies. The impacts of paternal non-severe abuse and verbal abuse have been subject to limited examination. Most studies in either clinical or representative samples have not excluded those reporting severe abuse in their analysis nor have the effects of the gender of the parent been extensively explored.  Thus, the multivariate impact of maternal and paternal non-severe physical and/or verbal abuse is largely unexplored regarding the effects on later mental health problems or substance abuse.    

Purpose: To examine the relationship between maternal and paternal non-severe physical and verbal abuse and two indicators of metal health (substance abuse and seeking mental health services in the last year) in adulthood (age 25-75).

Methods: A series of logistic regressions were used to determine the odds of receiving treatment for an emotional problem and or having substance abuse problems during the last year from the predictors of gender, age, maternal or paternal non-severe physical and verbal abuse in a large nationally representative sample.  The analyses included multiple binomial logistic regression (2 dependent variables) and the exploration of interactions.

Results/Conclusions: Our findings suggest individuals who have experienced maternal verbal abuse have a greater risk of needing mental health treatment later in life which did not interact with gender.  Similarly, those with more maternal verbal abuse and paternal non-severe physical abuse had greater odds of having substance abuse problems. The findings support the observations of other studies in representative samples that childhood
verbal abuse but not physical abuse is associated with psychiatric problems. Interestingly, the proportion of variance explained was humble, suggesting other variables at work.  The findings support the need for parental awareness of the effects of verbal abuse.