SEPA II: Links from Childhood Abuse to Adult Intimate Partner Violence, Depression, and Drinking in Hispanic Women

Saturday, 26 July 2014: 2:10 PM

Nilda (Nena) Peragallo, DrPH, RN, FAAN1
Brian E. McCabe, PhD2
Rosa Maria Gonzalez-Guarda, PhD, MPH, RN, CPH3
Natalia Villegas, PhD, MSN, RN2
Rosina Cianelli, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN1
(1)Schol of Nursing and Health Studies, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
(2)School of Nursing and Health Studies, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
(3)School of Nursing & Health Studies, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL

Purpose: There is evidence that experiencing abuse during childhood increases the risk of a number of physical and mental health problems during adulthood. Women or girls experience childhood abuse at higher rates than men. Research that has examined these topics have sampled Hispanic women less than non-Hispanic Whites. The purpose of this study was to examine relationships between childhood abuse (physical, sexual, and emotional) and adult intimate partner violence, depression, and high-risk drinking in a sample of Hispanic women in South Florida. The study aims to add to the knowledge base on relationships between childhood experiences and adulthood health problems. 

Methods: Data were from the baseline assessment of a randomized clinical trial of SEPA (Salud/Health, Educacion/Education, Promocion/Promotion, y/and Autocuidado/Self-care; Peragallo et al., 2012), a HIV/STI risk-reduction intervention compared to a wait-list control. Participants were 548 adult Hispanic women from South Florida. Participants were assessed by female bilingual interviewers using a structured questionnaire. All participants gave informed consent before completing the interview. The interviews were conducted in offices at or near a community service agency. Assessments were collected with the assistance of a web-based research management software system (e-Velos). Most women (n=504, 92%) chose to complete the interview in Spanish. The average age of participants was 38.48 years (SD = 8.53), 74% had a high school education (or equivalent), and 67% were unemployed at the time of the interview.  Women completed an interview in English or Spanish with bilingual research assistants. Childhood abuse was assessed using a Violence Assessment developed for a previous randomized trial with Hispanic women (Peragallo et al., 2005); child abuse was divided into three categories: physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. Three adulthood health problems were examined as outcomes.  Intimate partner violence was measured with the Revised Conflict Tactics Scale (2004), and coded as 1 (any reported violence) and 0 (no reported violence).  Depression was measured with the CES-D (Radloff, 1977), and coded as 1 (depression) and 0 (no depression) using 16 as the cut-off score for depression. High-risk drinking was assessed using the CAGE (Ewing, 1984), and coded as 1 (high-risk) and 0 (low-risk) using a cut-off score of 1. Mplus 7.11 (Muthen & Muthen, 2013) was used for analyses.

Results: Most women scored over the clinical cutoff point for depressive symptoms (M = 16.41, SD = 12.91) and reported at least one incident of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse in their lifetime (M = 1.07, SD = 1.49). Over a quarter of women reported experiencing intimate partner violence (64%) and 13% reported being high or drunk in the past 3 months. Childhood physical abuse was significantly related to high-risk drinking in adulthood, B = 0.78, SE = 0.35, p = .026, OR = 2.19. Childhood sexual abuse was significantly related to adulthood depression, B = 0.99, SE = 0.32, p = .002, OR = 2.69; and high-risk drinking, B = 0.77, SE = 0.32, p = .016, OR = 2.17. Childhood emotional abuse was significantly related to adulthood depression, B = 0.82, SE = 0.32, p = .012, OR= 2.26.  

Conclusion: This study identified four significant relationships between childhood abuse and adulthood health problems.  Adulthood depression was related to childhood sexual and emotional abuse.  Adulthood high-risk drinking was related to childhood physical sexual abuse.  Adulthood intimate partner violence was not significantly related to childhood abuse in this sample.  These results are largely consistent with previous research with non-Hispanic samples that links childhood traumatic experience with adulthood problems.  Intervention programs that reduce childhood abuse, and improve protective factors that can buffer against childhood abuse, are likely to help women well into adulthood.