Childhood adversity and perceived need for mental health care: findings from a Canadian community sample

J Nerv Ment Dis. 2005 Jun;193(6):396-404. doi: 10.1097/01.nmd.0000165293.62537.c9.


Previous community surveys have demonstrated that individuals with self-perceived need for mental health treatment in combination with meeting DSM-III-R criteria display the greatest levels of impairment in the community and have a higher likelihood of reporting parental psychopathology. The current investigation aims to replicate and extend these findings by examining the association between a wide range of childhood adversities with self-perceived need for mental health treatment and DSM-III-R diagnosis in a Canadian community sample (N = 8116). All respondents were questioned about their childhood experiences (physical and sexual abuse, emotional neglect, parental discord/separation, parental death, and parental psychopathology). After controlling for covariates in a multiple logistic regression, we found that emotional neglect (OR = 2.07), physical abuse (OR = 2.16), sexual abuse (OR = 2.39), paternal psychopathology (OR = 2.41), and maternal psychopathology (OR = 2.70) were independently and significantly associated with respondents meeting DSM criteria for a mental disorder and perceiving a need for treatment. These findings underscore the importance of future longitudinal studies considering the influence of a wide range of early childhood adversities on adult psychopathology and perceived need for treatment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data
  • Child of Impaired Parents*
  • Community Mental Health Services
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection / statistics & numerical data
  • Divorce / psychology
  • Divorce / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Health
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires