Maltreatment type, exposure characteristics, and mental health outcomes among clinic referred trauma-exposed youth.
Building upon prior research documenting differential effects of psychological maltreatment, physical, and sexual abuse on youth mental health outcomes (Spinazzola et al., 2014), the present study sought to clarify the relative predictive contributions of type of maltreatment compared to salient exposure characteristics. The sample included 5058 clinic-referred youth from the Core Dataset (CDS) of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) with lifetime histories of exposure to one or more of three specific types of maltreatment: psychological maltreatment (PM), physical abuse (PA), and sexual abuse (SA). First, we examined variations in salient trauma characteristics (age of onset, duration of exposure, number of co-occurring trauma types, and perpetrator type and number) by maltreatment group. Second, we examined whether type of maltreatment remained associated with mental health measures after adjusting for demographic variables and trauma characteristics. Profiles for youth with PM were more severe than youth who experienced either PA or SA only. Co-occurring PM and PA was associated with the most severe trauma exposure profile and with severity of PTSD symptoms, even after adjusting for demographic and trauma characteristics. Youth exposed to SA only had a distinct trauma profile and greater PTSD symptom severity after adjusting for demographic and trauma characteristic variables. Study findings hold important implications for trauma screening, assessment, and intervention, as well as for traumatic stress research methods that extend beyond abuse-specific or cumulative-risk approaches.
Hodgdon, HB; Spinazzola, J; Briggs, EC; Liang, L-J; Steinberg, AM; Layne, CM
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