Relationships between childhood maltreatment, adult health and psychiatric outcomes, and medical utilization

J Clin Psychiatry. 2004;65 Suppl 12:10-5.


Childhood maltreatment strongly predicts poor psychiatric and physical health outcomes in adulthood. This overview of the literature shows that individuals who suffer abuse, neglect, or serious family dysfunction as children are more likely to be depressed, to experience other types of psychiatric illness, to have more physical symptoms (both medically explained and unexplained), and to engage in more health-risk behaviors than their nonabused counterparts. The more severe the abuse, the stronger the association with poor outcomes in adulthood. Childhood sexual abuse in particular has been repeatedly associated, in adulthood, with physical complaints such as chronic pain that are likewise associated with depression. Individuals with a history of childhood abuse, particularly sexual abuse, are more likely than individuals with no history of abuse to become high utilizers of medical care and emergency services. Childhood maltreatment is highly prevalent among both men and women, especially in specialty settings such as emergency psychiatric care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data
  • Chronic Disease
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emergency Services, Psychiatric / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pain / diagnosis
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index