Athens, Ga. - Child maltreatment is associated with reductions in quality of life even decades later, according to a new University of Georgia study that finds thaton averagevictims lose at least two years of quality of life.
UGA College of Public Health associate professor Phaedra Corso and her colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed surveys of more than 6,000 people to assess the deficits in quality of life that victims suffer. Their results appear in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
We found, with rigorous statistical methods, that there are significant differences in health-related quality of life between people who were maltreated as children and those who were not, Corso said, and that holds across all age groups.
Childhood maltreatmentwhich includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglecthas been linked to an increased risk for ailments ranging from heart disease, obesity and diabetes to depression and anxiety. Corso said there are two reasons why. First, childhood maltreatment increases the likelihood of unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, substance abuse and sexual promiscuity. And recent studies suggest that repeated exposure to the stress caused by maltreatment alters brain circuits and hormonal systems, which puts victims at greater risk of chronic health problems.
The researchers found that 46 percent of respondents reported some form of maltreatment during childhood. Of those, 26 percent reported physical abuse; 21 percent reported sexual abuse; 10 percent reported emotional abuse; 14 percent reported emotional neglect; and nine percent reported physical neglect.
Corso said few studies have examined the long-term impact of childhood maltreatment on quality of life, and, until now, none had been designed so that the measures can be used in comparative economic impact analyses. These analyses are important, Corso said, because they allow publ
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University of Georgia