Latent classes of childhood trauma exposure predict the development of behavioral health outcomes in adolescence and young adulthood

E. D. Ballard, K. Van Eck, R. J. Musci, S. R. Hart, C. L. Storr, N. Breslau, H. C. Wilcox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background To develop latent classes of exposure to traumatic experiences before the age of 13 years in an urban community sample and to use these latent classes to predict the development of negative behavioral outcomes in adolescence and young adulthood. Method A total of 1815 participants in an epidemiologically based, randomized field trial as children completed comprehensive psychiatric assessments as young adults. Reported experiences of nine traumatic experiences before age 13 years were used in a latent class analysis to create latent profiles of traumatic experiences. Latent classes were used to predict psychiatric outcomes at age 13 years, criminal convictions, physical health problems and traumatic experiences reported in young adulthood. Results Three latent classes of childhood traumatic experiences were supported by the data. One class (8% of sample), primarily female, was characterized by experiences of sexual assault and reported significantly higher rates of a range of psychiatric outcomes by young adulthood. Another class (8%), primarily male, was characterized by experiences of violence exposure and reported higher levels of antisocial personality disorder and post-traumatic stress. The final class (84%) reported low levels of childhood traumatic experiences. Parental psychopathology was related to membership in the sexual assault group. Conclusions Classes of childhood traumatic experiences predict specific psychiatric and behavioral outcomes in adolescence and young adulthood. The long-term adverse effects of childhood traumas are primarily concentrated in victims of sexual and non-sexual violence. Gender emerged as a key covariate in the classes of trauma exposure and outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3305-3316
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological medicine
Volume45
Issue number15
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

Keywords

  • Childhood adverse experiences
  • latent class analysis
  • trauma
  • young adulthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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