Childhood maltreatment: Associated psychopathology and attentional functioning in a healthy college sample
AuthorMonheim, Cynthia J.
AdvisorKaszniak, Alfred W.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe relationship between childhood maltreatment, depression, anxiety, and neuropsychological performance was assessed in a two-part study of healthy college students. The primary hypotheses predicted that more severe self-reported histories of childhood maltreatment in this population would be correlated with: (a) increased current symptoms of anxiety and depression; (b) poorer attentional performance; and (c) that anxiety and depression would moderate the relationship between maltreatment and attentional performance. Phase 1: In the first college student study (n = 202), moderate associations were found between self-reported childhood maltreatment and current depression symptoms (r = .348, p < .001), as well as current anxiety symptoms (r = .286, p < .001). Performance on the Digit Symbol test, used here as a measure of sustained attention, was significantly correlated with sexual abuse (r = -.157, p = .013), but was not correlated with total maltreatment, punishment, or neglect scores. Depression and anxiety symptoms neither moderated nor mediated the relationship between sexual maltreatment and Digit Symbol test performance. Phase II: In the second college student study (n = 71), multiple measures of attention and other domains of neuropsychological function were added to better understand the potential relationship between maltreatment, attention, and depression and anxiety symptoms. Total self-reported childhood maltreatment was found to significantly correlate with depression (r = .315, p = .004), and anxiety (r = .271, p = .011) symptoms. Scores on neglect/negative home environment and punishment subscales also significantly correlated with depression and anxiety symptoms. Surprisingly, sexual abuse did not. No maltreatment scores significantly correlated with performance on neuropsychological measures in this sample. However, the multiplicative interaction of anxiety and sexual abuse significantly correlated with a factor-determined index of verbal fluency. No other of the multiplicative interactions of abuse scales and depression or anxiety symptoms were correlated with any other factor-derived indices of attention or cognitive functioning (total of 40 correlations examined). These findings highlight the relationship between childhood maltreatment and anxiety and depression in an otherwise healthy, high-functioning sample. Within such a sample, however, there is little evidence for significant effects of maltreatment on attentional or other aspects of cognitive executive functioning. These results are discussed in relationship to previously reported research and the methodological limitations of the present study.
Degree ProgramGraduate College