Differences in Childhood Physical Abuse Reporting and the Association Between CPA and Alcohol Use Disorder in European American and African American Women

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Abstract

The goal of the current study was to examine whether the magnitude of the association between childhood physical abuse (CPA) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) varies by type of CPA assessment and race of the respondents. Data are from the Missouri adolescent female twins study and the Missouri family study (N = 4508) where 21.2% identified as African American (AA) and 78.8% as European American (EA); mean age = 23.8. Data were collected using a structured comprehensive interview which assessed CPA experiences using behavioral questions about specific abusive behaviors and trauma checklist items. Cox proportional hazards regression analyses were conducted, adjusting for additional risk factors associated with AUD, including co-occurring psychiatric disorders (defined as time-varying) and parental alcohol misuse. Overall, CPA reporting patterns were highly correlated (tetrachoric ρ = 0.73); although, only 25.8% of women who endorsed behaviorally defined CPA also endorsed checklist items whereas 72.2% of women who endorsed checklist items also endorsed behavioral questions. Racial disparities were evident, with behaviorally defined CPA increasing the hazard for AUD in EA but not AA women. Additional racial disparities in the risk for AUD were observed: increased hazard for AUD were associated with major depressive disorder in AA, and cannabis dependence and paternal alcohol problems in EA, women. Results demonstrate the relevance of the type of CPA measure in assessing CPA in studies of alcohol-related problems—behavioral items may be more inclusive of CPA exposure and more predictive of AUD– and highlight racial distinctions of AUD etiology in women.

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