Background: The goal of this investigation was to determine the association between self-reported childhood trauma and physical disorders among adults in the United States.
Method: Data were drawn from the National Comorbidity Survey (N=5877). Multiple logistic regression analyses were used to determine the associations between childhood physical abuse, sexual abuse, and childhood neglect and the likelihood of specific physical disorders among adults.
Results: Childhood physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect were associated with a statistically significantly increased risk of a wide range of physical illnesses during adulthood. After adjusting for demographic characteristics, lifetime anxiety and depressive disorders, alcohol and substance dependence, and all types of trauma: results showed that childhood physical abuse was associated with increased risk of lung disease (OR= 1.5 (1.1, 2.2)), peptic ulcer (OR= 1.5 (1.03, 2.2)) and arthritic disorders (OR= 1.5 (1.1, 2.2)); childhood sexual abuse was associated with increased risk of cardiac disease (OR = 3.7 (1.5, 9.4)); and childhood neglect was associated with increased risk of diabetes (OR=2 2 (1.1, 4.4)) and autoimmune disorders (OR =4.4 (1.7, 11.6)).
Conclusions: Consistent with previous work, these results suggest that self-reported childhood trauma is associated with increased risk of a range of physical illnesses during adulthood. Future research that includes replication of these findings using prospectively assessed physical and mental disorders with objectively measured biological data using a longitudinal design, including other known risk factors for these diseases and more detailed information on specific forms of abuse, is needed to understand the potential mechanisms of these links.