Psychiatric co-morbidity in caregivers and children involved in maltreatment: a pilot research study with policy implications.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to determine the lifetime incidence of mental disorders in caregivers involved in maltreatment and in their maltreated child. METHODS: Lifetime DSM-III-R and IV psychiatric diagnoses were obtained for 53 maltreating families, including at least one primary caregiver and one proband maltreated child or adolescent subject (28 males, 25 females), and for a comparison group of 46 sociodemographically, similar nonmaltreating families, including one proband healthy child and adolescent subject (22 males, 22 females). RESULTS: Mothers of maltreated children exhibited a significantly greater lifetime incidence of anxiety disorders (especially post-traumatic stress disorder), mood disorders, alcohol and/or substance abuse or dependence disorder, suicide attempts, and comorbidity of two or more psychiatric disorders, compared to control mothers. Natural fathers or mothers' live-in mates involved in maltreatment exhibited a significantly greater lifetime incidence of an alcohol and/or substance abuse or dependence disorder compared to controls. The majority of maltreated children and adolescents reported anxiety disorders, especially post-traumatic stress disorder (from witnessing domestic violence and/or sexual abuse), mood disorders, suicidal ideation and attempts, and disruptive disorders. Most maltreated children (72%) suffered from comorbidity involving both emotional and behavioral regulation disorders. CONCLUSIONS: Families involved in maltreatment manifest significant histories of psychiatric comorbidity. Policies which target identification and treatment of comorbidity may contribute to breaking the intergenerational transmission of maltreatment.
De Bellis, MD; Broussard, ER; Herring, DJ; Wexler, S; Moritz, G; Benitez, JG
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