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    Females have more complex patterns of childhood adversity: implications for mental, social, and emotional outcomes in adulthood

    Haahr-Pedersen, Ida and Perera, Camila and Hyland, Philip and Vallières, Frédérique and Murphy, David and Hansen, Maj and Spitz, Pernille and Hansen, Pernille and Cloitre, Marylene (2020) Females have more complex patterns of childhood adversity: implications for mental, social, and emotional outcomes in adulthood. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 11 (1). p. 1708618. ISSN 2000-8066

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    Background: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have been identified as an important public health problem with serious implications. Less well understood is how distinct configurations of childhood adversities carry differential risks for mental health, emotional, and social outcomes later in life. Objective: To determine if distinct profiles of childhood adversities exist for males and females and to examine if unique associations exist between the resultant latent profiles of childhood adversities and multiple indicators of mental health and social and emotional wellbeing in adulthood. Method: Participants (N = 1,839) were a nationally representative household sample of adults currently residing in the USA and the data were collected via online self-report questionnaires. Latent class analysis was used to identify the optimal number of classes to explain ACE co-occurrence among males and females, separately. ANOVAs, chi-square tests, and t-tests were used to compare male and female classes across multiple mental health, emotional, and social wellbeing variables in adulthood. Results: Females were significantly more likely than males to report a range of ACEs and mental health, social, and emotional difficulties in adulthood. Two- and four-class models were identified as the best fit for males and females, respectively, indicating more complexity and variation in ACE exposures among females. For males and female, ACEs were strongly associated with poorer mental health, emotional, and social outcomes in adulthood. Among females, growing up in a dysfunctional home environment was a significant risk factor for adverse social outcomes in adulthood. Conclusions: Males and females have distinct patterns of childhood adversities, with females experiencing more complex and varied patterns of childhood adversity. These patterns of ACEs were associated with numerous negative mental, emotional, and social outcomes among both sexes.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Cite as: Ida Haahr-Pedersen, Camila Perera, Philip Hyland, Frédérique Vallières, David Murphy, Maj Hansen, Pernille Spitz, Pernille Hansen & Marylène Cloitre (2020) Females have more complex patterns of childhood adversity: implications for mental, social, and emotional outcomes in adulthood, European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 11:1, DOI: 10.1080/20008198.2019.1708618
    Keywords: Childhood trauma; PTSD; ACE; latent class analysis; childhood adversity; mental health;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering > Psychology
    Item ID: 12688
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Philip Hyland
    Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2020 15:25
    Journal or Publication Title: European Journal of Psychotraumatology
    Publisher: Taylor & Francis Open
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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