Background: Childhood maltreatment can impede gratitude, yet little is known about the older population and its moderators. The aim of this study is to clarify the association between childhood maltreatment and levels of gratitude of the older population, and the moderating effect of social ties on the association.
Methods: We analyzed the data of 524 community-dwelling older adults aged 65-84 years without functional disabilities in Tokamachi City, Niigata, Japan, collected for the Neuron to Environmental Impact across Generations (NEIGE) study in 2017. Using a questionnaire, the participants rated three types of childhood maltreatment before the age of 18 (physical abuse, emotional neglect, and psychological abuse), level of gratitude, and social ties.
Results: We found an inverse association between emotional neglect and gratitude. Furthermore, emotional neglect was inversely associated with gratitude only for those with lower levels of social ties.
Conclusions: Promoting social ties may mitigate the adverse impact of emotional neglect on the level of gratitude.
Keywords: childhood maltreatment; emotional neglect; gratitude; older population; social tie.