Correlates of Adverse Childhood Events Among Adults With Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders

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Abstract

Objective

Multiple studies have found that childhood adversity is related to a range of poor mental health, substance abuse, poor physical health, and poor social functioning outcomes in the general population of adults. However, despite the high rates of childhood adversity in schizophrenia, the clinical correlates of these events have not been systematically evaluated. This study evaluated the relationship between adverse experiences in childhood and functional, clinical, and health outcomes among adults with schizophrenia.

Methods

The authors surveyed 569 adults with schizophrenia regarding adverse childhood events (including physical abuse, sexual abuse, parental mental illnesses, loss of a parent, parental separation or divorce, witnessing domestic violence, and foster or kinship care). The relationships between cumulative exposure to these events and psychiatric, physical, and functional outcomes were evaluated.

Results

Increased exposure to adverse childhood events was strongly related to psychiatric problems (suicidal thinking, hospitalizations, distress, and posttraumatic stress disorder), substance abuse, physical health problems (HIV infection), medical service utilization (physician visits), and poor social functioning (homelessness or criminal justice involvement).

Conclusions

The findings extend the results of research in the general population by suggesting that childhood adversity contributes to worse mental health, substance abuse, worse physical health, and poor functional outcomes in schizophrenia. (Psychiatric Services 58:245–253, 2007)

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