Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

The impact of cumulative childhood adversity on young adult mental health: Measures, models, and interpretations

Contents:

Author Info

  • Schilling, Elizabeth A.
  • Aseltine, Robert H.
  • Gore, Susan
Registered author(s):

    Abstract

    Research studies investigating the impact of childhood cumulative adversity on adult mental health have proliferated in recent years. In general, little attention has been paid to the operationalization of cumulative adversity, with most studies operationalizing this as the simple sum of the number of occurrences of distinct events experienced. In addition, the possibility that the mathematical relationship of cumulative childhood adversity to some mental health dimensions may be more complex than a basic linear association has not often been considered. This study explores these issues with 2 waves of data drawn from an economically and racially diverse sample transitioning to adulthood in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. A diverse set of childhood adversities were reported in high school and 3 mental health outcomes--depressed mood, drug use, and antisocial behavior--were reported 2 years later during the transition to adulthood. Our results suggest that both operationalization and statistical modeling are important and interrelated and, as such, they have the potential to influence substantive interpretation of the effect of cumulative childhood adversity on adult mental health. In our data, total cumulative childhood adversity was related to depressive symptoms, drug use, and antisocial behavior in a positive curvilinear manner with incremental impact increasing as adversities accumulate, but further analysis revealed that this curvilinear effect was an artifact of the confounding of high cumulative adversity scores with the experience of more severe events. Thus, respondents with higher cumulative adversity had disproportionately poorer mental health because of the severity of the adversities they were exposed to, not the cumulative number of different types of adversities experienced. These results indicate that public health efforts targeting prevention of childhood adversities would best be aimed at the most severe adversities in order to have greatest benefit to mental health in young adulthood.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6VBF-4RH8SM7-1/2/f11417515db94f0be4c5ea90974129c8
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 66 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 5 (March)
    Pages: 1140-1151

    as in new window
    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:66:y:2008:i:5:p:1140-1151

    Contact details of provider:
    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/315/description#description

    Order Information:
    Postal: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/supportfaq.cws_home/regional
    Web: http://www.elsevier.com/orderme/journalorderform.cws_home/315/journalorderform1/orderooc/id=654&ref=654_01_ooc_1&version=01

    Related research

    Keywords: USA Cumulative adversity Transition to adulthood Depression Drug use Antisocial behavior Adolescents Mental health;

    References

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    Cited by:
    1. Yamamura, Eiji, 2011. "Differences in the effect of social capital on health status between workers and non-workers," MPRA Paper 32064, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Oshio, Takashi & Umeda, Maki & Kawakami, Norito, 2011. "Mediating effects of social support and socioeconomic status on the association between childhood interpersonal adversity and adulthood mental health in Japan," CIS Discussion paper series 523, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.

    Lists

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:66:y:2008:i:5:p:1140-1151. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.