Childhood Trauma and Adult Somatic Symptoms

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OBJECTIVE: Childhood trauma is a key public health risk factor for developing physical illness. This study examined how childhood abuse and neglect predict adult somatic symptoms assessed retrospectively and in real-time.

METHODS: Participants in the HowNutsAreTheDutch (HND) project completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire Short Form (CTQ-SF) and, to assess somatic symptoms, the cross-sectional Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-15; N = 406) or a longitudinal ecological momentary assessment (EMA) protocol which included responding to an item on physical discomfort 3 times/day for 30 days (N = 290).

RESULTS: As hypothesized, childhood trauma was positively associated with adult somatic symptoms assessed using the PHQ-15 (d = 0.30) and assessed using the EMA item (d = 0.31), also after adjustment for age, gender, educational level, and relationship status. Longitudinally, we also explored whether interpersonal context moderated abuse outcomes, and observed that social company dampened momentary physical discomfort among people with a history of more physical neglect (d = 0.04).

CONCLUSION: Childhood trauma, especially emotional and sexual abuse, predict specific adult somatic symptoms. Future work may examine how symptom expression is influenced by the social lives of traumatized individuals.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)408-416
Aantal pagina's9
TijdschriftPsychosomatic Medicine
Nummer van het tijdschrift5
Vroegere onlinedatum24-apr.-2023
StatusPublished - 2023

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