Child physical abuse and the related PTSD in Taiwan: The role of Chinese cultural background and victims' subjective reactions

Child Abuse Negl. 2011 Jan;35(1):58-68. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2010.08.005.


Objective: This study aimed to investigate child physical abuse (CPA) while taking into account the more rigorous definitions of CPA in the Chinese societies. The prevalence of CPA and CPA-related PTSD were estimated, together with the examination of peri-traumatic subjective reactions and their impacts on PTSD.

Methods: In a Taiwanese sample of 1966 4th to 8th graders, the Chinese version of UCLA PTSD Reaction Index for DSM-IV (Steinberg, Brymer, Decker, & Pynoos, 2004) was used to investigate the lifetime exposure to CPA. A sub-sample of 236 traumatized CPA victims was examined with respect to related PTSD symptoms.

Results: Thirty-four percent of the children had been exposed to CPA. The estimated current prevalence of full and partial PTSD was 13.6% and 16.9%, respectively.

Conclusions: The current CPA prevalence was found to be higher than the Western countries, but lower than the previous findings in other East Asian societies. The full PTSD prevalence was close to the findings in the Western countries, whereas sub-clinical PTSD was less observed in Taiwan. Peri-traumatic subjective reactions, that is, Criterion A2 and perceived threat, were shown to be major predictors of PTSD symptom severity. The role of attitudes of child discipline in the Chinese societies in the prevalence of CPA and CPA-related PTSD is discussed.

Practice implications: By providing explicit epidemiological information of CPA and CPA-related PTSD in Taiwan, the current study extends our understanding of CPA and CPA-related PTSD more broadly from Western countries to the Eastern societies. By separately investigating CPA relating to different perpetrators, cross-study comparison is enhanced. In the current study, the significance of considering cultural background in defining CPA and examining CPA-related PTSD was pointed out. Meanwhile, the role of victims' subjective reactions in the psychopathology of PTSD is highlighted. The findings and discussions could contribute for generating a more sophisticated clinical practice, especially with Asian or Chinese cases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / ethnology*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology*
  • China / ethnology
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Culture*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / ethnology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Taiwan