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Unravelling the contribution of complex trauma to psychopathology and cognitive deficits: a cohort study.

Publication ,  Journal Article
Lewis, SJ; Koenen, KC; Ambler, A; Arseneault, L; Caspi, A; Fisher, HL; Moffitt, TE; Danese, A
Published in: The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science
August 2021

Complex traumas are traumatic experiences that involve multiple interpersonal threats during childhood or adolescence, such as repeated abuse. These traumas are hypothesised to cause more severe psychopathology and poorer cognitive function than other non-complex traumas. However, empirical testing has been limited to clinical/convenience samples and cross-sectional designs.To investigate psychopathology and cognitive function in young people exposed to complex, non-complex or no trauma, from a population-representative longitudinal cohort, and to consider the role of pre-existing vulnerabilities.Participants were from the Environmental Risk Longitudinal Twin Study, a population-representative birth cohort of 2232 British children. At age 18 years (93% participation), we assessed lifetime exposure to complex and non-complex trauma, past-year psychopathology and current cognitive function. We also prospectively assessed early childhood vulnerabilities: internalising and externalising symptoms at 5 years of age, IQ at 5 years of age, family history of mental illness, family socioeconomic status and sex.Participants exposed to complex trauma had more severe psychopathology and poorer cognitive function at 18 years of age, compared with both trauma-unexposed participants and those exposed to non-complex trauma. Early childhood vulnerabilities predicted risk of later complex trauma exposure, and largely explained associations of complex trauma with cognitive deficits, but not with psychopathology.By conflating complex and non-complex traumas, current research and clinical practice underestimate the severity of psychopathology, cognitive deficits and pre-existing vulnerabilities linked with complex trauma. A better understanding of the mental health needs of people exposed to complex trauma could inform the development of new, more effective interventions.

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Published In

The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science

DOI

EISSN

1472-1465

ISSN

0007-1250

Publication Date

August 2021

Volume

219

Issue

2

Start / End Page

448 / 455

Related Subject Headings

  • Psychiatry
  • 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
  • 11 Medical and Health Sciences
 

Citation

APA
Chicago
ICMJE
MLA
NLM
Lewis, S. J., Koenen, K. C., Ambler, A., Arseneault, L., Caspi, A., Fisher, H. L., … Danese, A. (2021). Unravelling the contribution of complex trauma to psychopathology and cognitive deficits: a cohort study. The British Journal of Psychiatry : The Journal of Mental Science, 219(2), 448–455. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.2021.57
Lewis, Stephanie J., Karestan C. Koenen, Antony Ambler, Louise Arseneault, Avshalom Caspi, Helen L. Fisher, Terrie E. Moffitt, and Andrea Danese. “Unravelling the contribution of complex trauma to psychopathology and cognitive deficits: a cohort study.The British Journal of Psychiatry : The Journal of Mental Science 219, no. 2 (August 2021): 448–55. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.2021.57.
Lewis SJ, Koenen KC, Ambler A, Arseneault L, Caspi A, Fisher HL, et al. Unravelling the contribution of complex trauma to psychopathology and cognitive deficits: a cohort study. The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science. 2021 Aug;219(2):448–55.
Lewis, Stephanie J., et al. “Unravelling the contribution of complex trauma to psychopathology and cognitive deficits: a cohort study.The British Journal of Psychiatry : The Journal of Mental Science, vol. 219, no. 2, Aug. 2021, pp. 448–55. Epmc, doi:10.1192/bjp.2021.57.
Lewis SJ, Koenen KC, Ambler A, Arseneault L, Caspi A, Fisher HL, Moffitt TE, Danese A. Unravelling the contribution of complex trauma to psychopathology and cognitive deficits: a cohort study. The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science. 2021 Aug;219(2):448–455.
Journal cover image

Published In

The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science

DOI

EISSN

1472-1465

ISSN

0007-1250

Publication Date

August 2021

Volume

219

Issue

2

Start / End Page

448 / 455

Related Subject Headings

  • Psychiatry
  • 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
  • 11 Medical and Health Sciences