Childhood trauma and adult somatic preoccupation by body area among women in an internal medicine setting: a pilot study

Int J Psychiatry Med. 2001;31(2):147-54. doi: 10.2190/TC5A-07AK-50RU-R2RG.


Objective: This study was designed to explore the relationship between three types of abuse in childhood and their relationship to somatic preoccupation, in general and by body area, in adulthood.

Method: Eighty-five women in an internal medicine clinic completed self-report measures of childhood sexual, physical, and emotional abuse as well as the Bradford Somatic Inventory.

Results: Using simple correlations, all three types of abuse were positively related to current somatic preoccupation. Using multiple regression analysis that included demographic variables (education and age) and the three forms of childhood abuse, only the demographic variables and sexual abuse were uniquely predictive of somatic preoccupation. To determine the relationship between childhood abuse and somatic symptoms based on body area (head, chest, stomach, throat) and fatigue, a series of multiple regression analyses were performed. The chest and throat areas were significant, but no abuse variable was uniquely predictive.

Conclusions: Among females in adulthood, all studied forms of abuse in childhood appear to contribute to general somatic preoccupation, as well as specific somatic symptoms in the chest and throat areas. Sexual abuse, specifically, is a unique predictor for general somatic preoccupation, but not necessarily specific body areas.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine
  • Pilot Projects
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Somatoform Disorders / epidemiology
  • Somatoform Disorders / etiology
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires