Mediating and moderating effects of social support in the study of child abuse and adult physical and mental health

Todd I. Herrenkohl, Hyunzee Jung, J. Bart Klika, W. Alex Mason, Eric C. Brown, Rebecca T. Leeb, Roy C. Herrenkohl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

A number of cross-sectional and a few longitudinal studies have shown a developmental relationship between child abuse and adult physical and mental health. Published findings also suggest that social support can lessen the risk of adverse outcomes for some abused children. However, few studies have investigated whether social support mediates or moderates the relationship between child abuse and adult physical and mental health. Structural equation modeling was used to examine data on these topics from a longitudinal study of more than 30 years. While a latent construct of physical and emotional child abuse did not predict adult health outcomes directly, child abuse did predict outcomes indirectly through social support. A test of variable moderation for child abuse and social support was nonsignificant. Results suggest that social support may help explain the association between child abuse and health outcomes at midlife. Implications of the findings for prevention and treatment are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-583
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Volume86
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Keywords

  • Child maltreatment
  • Mental health
  • Physical health
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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