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Impact Factor

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 31 January 2011 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00246

Childhood trauma and chronic illness in adulthood: mental health and socioeconomic status as explanatory factors and buffers

  • Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, Department of Health Studies and Gerontology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada

Experiences of traumatic events in childhood have been shown to have long-term consequences for health in adulthood. With data from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey we take a life course perspective of cumulative disadvantage and examine the potential role of mental health and socioeconomic status in adulthood as multiple mediators of the link between childhood trauma and chronic illness in adulthood. Mental health and socioeconomic status are also tested as buffers against the typically adverse consequences of childhood trauma. The results suggest mental health and socioeconomic status partially explain the association of childhood trauma with chronic illness in adulthood, with mental health showing a stronger effect. In addition, an analysis of the interactions suggested higher socioeconomic status is a potential protective factor for those with a history of trauma. Results also suggest cumulative disadvantage following trauma may lead to chronic illness and suggest the need for public health expenditures on resources such as counseling and income supports to prevent or reduce psychological harm and chronic illness resulting from traumatic events.

Keywords: childhood trauma, chronic illness, mental health, socioeconomic status, cumulative disadvantage

Citation: Mock SE and Arai SM (2011) Childhood trauma and chronic illness in adulthood: mental health and socioeconomic status as explanatory factors and buffers. Front. Psychology 1:246. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00246

Received: 03 July 2010; Accepted: 27 December 2010;
Published online: 31 January 2011.

Edited by:

Elysia Davis, University of California at Irvine, USA

Reviewed by:

Nadine Fink, Harvard Medical School, USA
Kerry-Ann Grant, Macquarie University, Australia

Copyright: © 2011 Mock and Arai. This is an open-access article subject to an exclusive license agreement between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Steven E. Mock, Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, Department of Health Studies and Gerontology, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3G1. e-mail: smock@uwaterloo.ca