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Child maltreatment, lifetime trauma, and mental health in Swiss older survivors of enforced child welfare practices: Investigating the mediating role of self-esteem and self-compassion


Thoma, Myriam V; Bernays, Florence; Eising, Carla M; Maercker, Andreas; Rohner, Shauna L (2021). Child maltreatment, lifetime trauma, and mental health in Swiss older survivors of enforced child welfare practices: Investigating the mediating role of self-esteem and self-compassion. Child Abuse & Neglect, 113:104925.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Child maltreatment is a common occurrence and has frequently been shown to adversely impact mental health over the lifespan. Minors affected by welfare practices have a higher risk of exposure to child maltreatment. However, the long-term correlates of child maltreatment in welfare practices and mental health, in addition to potential mediators, are insufficiently examined in later life.

OBJECTIVE: This study aims to a) examine the experiences of child maltreatment, lifetime traumata, and mental health of Swiss older adults affected by enforced child welfare practices, in comparison to an age-matched control group; and b) to examine the potentially protective roles of self-esteem and self-compassion.

PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: A total of N = 257 participants (risk group: n = 132, M$_{AGE}$ = 70.8 years, 58 % male; control group: n = 125, M$_{AGE}$ = 70.6 years, 49 % male) were assessed in a retrospective, cross-sectional study involving two face-to-face interviews.

METHODS: A structured clinical interview for DSM-5 assessed current and lifetime mental health disorders; self-esteem and self-compassion were assessed with psychometric instruments.

RESULTS: Affected individuals (risk group) had higher rates of child maltreatment and lifetime traumata compared to non-affected individuals (control group). Affected individuals also presented with a higher mental health burden over the lifespan. Across both groups, self-esteem, but not self-compassion, acted as a significant mediator between emotional abuse and neglect and mental health.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that child maltreatment has a lifetime impact and influences mental health into later life, and that self-esteem can mitigate the detrimental impact of emotional abuse and neglect on mental health.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Child maltreatment is a common occurrence and has frequently been shown to adversely impact mental health over the lifespan. Minors affected by welfare practices have a higher risk of exposure to child maltreatment. However, the long-term correlates of child maltreatment in welfare practices and mental health, in addition to potential mediators, are insufficiently examined in later life.

OBJECTIVE: This study aims to a) examine the experiences of child maltreatment, lifetime traumata, and mental health of Swiss older adults affected by enforced child welfare practices, in comparison to an age-matched control group; and b) to examine the potentially protective roles of self-esteem and self-compassion.

PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: A total of N = 257 participants (risk group: n = 132, M$_{AGE}$ = 70.8 years, 58 % male; control group: n = 125, M$_{AGE}$ = 70.6 years, 49 % male) were assessed in a retrospective, cross-sectional study involving two face-to-face interviews.

METHODS: A structured clinical interview for DSM-5 assessed current and lifetime mental health disorders; self-esteem and self-compassion were assessed with psychometric instruments.

RESULTS: Affected individuals (risk group) had higher rates of child maltreatment and lifetime traumata compared to non-affected individuals (control group). Affected individuals also presented with a higher mental health burden over the lifespan. Across both groups, self-esteem, but not self-compassion, acted as a significant mediator between emotional abuse and neglect and mental health.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that child maltreatment has a lifetime impact and influences mental health into later life, and that self-esteem can mitigate the detrimental impact of emotional abuse and neglect on mental health.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:15 January 2021
Deposited On:28 Jan 2021 10:35
Last Modified:27 Sep 2022 11:42
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0145-2134
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2020.104925
PubMed ID:33461114
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)