The health impact of childhood trauma: an interdisciplinary review, 1997-2003

Issues Compr Pediatr Nurs. Apr-Jun 2005;28(2):115-36. doi: 10.1080/01460860590950890.


Research has shown a strong relationship between childhood trauma and psychological difficulties in later life; more recent research has indicated that the long-term effects are even greater for physical illness. These long-term effects have highlighted Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a possible mediator variable. The illnesses identified include, but are not limited to, eating disorders, substance abuse, phobias, multiple personality disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune disorders. Childhood trauma is an area of interdisciplinary interest; therefore, a variety of disciplines have been carrying out research in this area. This article is an integrative review of the literature over the last five years across disciplines, including nursing, medicine, psychology, education, social services, and government agencies. The review searched for themes, common constructs, and definitions, plus gaps in the present literature that need to be addressed. Particular attention was paid to measurement tools, and the importance of post traumatic stress disorder. Databases included were Medline, Proquest, Canadian Health Network (CHN), Canadian Business and Current Affairs (CBCA) Education, Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) Plus, Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), American Psychological Association Database Information (PsychINFO), and Cochrance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse / diagnosis
  • Child Abuse / prevention & control
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Welfare*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Models, Psychological
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Research Design
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors