Documented and Self-Reported Child Abuse and Adult Pain in a Community Sample : The Clinical Journal of Pain

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Documented and Self-Reported Child Abuse and Adult Pain in a Community Sample

Brown, Jocelyn MD, MPH*; Berenson, Kathy PhD; Cohen, Patricia PhD

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The Clinical Journal of Pain 21(5):p 374-377, September 2005. | DOI: 10.1097/01.ajp.0000149797.16370.dc



To examine the association of chronic pain in young adults with childhood exposure to maltreatment and to determine whether depressive symptoms mediate such an association.


A total of 649 members of a randomly selected cohort of young adults from a multiwave, multi-informant epidemiological study were interviewed with regard to chronic pain and symptoms of major depressive disorder. Maltreatment was measured both by retrospective self-report and by official records of substantiated child maltreatment.

Outcome Measures: 

Current complaints of frequent pain and functionally impairing chronic pain were assessed in young adult interviews at mean age 22.


Net of demographic factors, adult chronic pain was associated with self-reported sexual abuse. This association persisted after the contribution of concurrent depression was statistically controlled. Elevations of pain attributable to documented maltreatment were comparatively modest and below the threshold of statistical significance. Pain complaints in participants who self-reported physical abuse were not significantly elevated.


Overall, results show an association between self-reported sexual abuse history and adult pain complaints in this general population sample, which was not attributable to symptoms of depression at the time of such reports.

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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