Childhood Shadows: Psychological Distress of Childhood Maltreatment among Asian-American Women

Abstract

Childhood maltreatment is a key social determinant that potentially results in long-lasting psychological consequences in adulthood. This study examined the link between childhood maltreatment (i.e., physical abuse, sexual abuse, and exposure to violence) and psychological distress (i.e., depression and anxiety) among Asian-American women. The moderating effect of perceived discrimination on the association was also investigated. This study utilized self-reported data from 1022 Asian-American women aged 18–65 (Mage = 38.51) who participated in the National Latino and Asian American Survey. A series of multivariate logistic regressions were conducted to detect the association between childhood maltreatment, sociodemographics and acculturation, and psychological distress for Asian-American women. Results indicated that Asian women who experienced sexual abuse and were exposed to violence during childhood had a significantly greater likelihood of both depressive and anxiety disorders, while childhood physical abuse was significantly associated with a depressive disorder, but not an anxiety disorder (Model 1). In Model 2, marital status and perceived discrimination were significant determinants of psychological distress. Respondents who were never married had a greater likelihood of depression compared to those who were married or cohabited. Also, women who perceived discrimination were more likely to have both depressive and anxiety disorders. In Model 3, perceived discrimination was a significant moderator on the association between exposure to violence and an anxiety disorder. From a clinical perspective, identifying the effects of social determinants on mental health disorders and providing proper services and intervention can be key to improving an individual’s well-being and social stability.

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Acknowledgements

Author Contributions

J.L.: designed and executed the study, analyzed the data, wrote the paper, and edited the final manuscript. M.C.: collaborated with the design and writing of the study.

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Correspondence to Jungup Lee.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Lee, J., Choi, M.J. Childhood Shadows: Psychological Distress of Childhood Maltreatment among Asian-American Women. J Child Fam Stud 27, 2954–2965 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-018-1114-4

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Keywords

  • Childhood maltreatment
  • Social determinants of health
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Asian-American women