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Prevalence of Childhood Physical and Sexual Abuse in Veterans With Psychiatric Diagnoses

Koola, Maju Mathew MD, DPM*; Qualls, Clifford PhD; Kelly, Deanna L. PharmD, BCPP*; Skelton, Kelly MD; Bradley, Bekh PhD; Amar, Richard MD§; Duncan, Erica J. PhD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: April 2013 - Volume 201 - Issue 4 - p 348–352
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e318288e333
Brief Reports

We examined the prevalence of childhood (≤18 years) physical and sexual abuse reported among patients admitted to the psychiatric inpatient service and the differential rates of this abuse associated with psychiatric diagnoses. This study consisted of a retrospective chart review of 603 patients admitted to a psychiatric ward during a period of 1 year at Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center who had data on childhood physical and sexual abuse. The prevalence of reported childhood physical or sexual abuse in this inpatient clinical population was 19.4% (117/603). The prevalence of reported physical abuse was 22.6% (19/84) in the women and 12.0% (62/519) in the men (p = 0.008); the prevalence of sexual abuse was 33.3% (28/84) in the women and 7.7% (40/519) in the men (p < 0.0001). More patients with depressive disorders reported sexual abuse than did those without these disorders. More patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) reported physical and sexual abuse than did those without these disorders. Stratifying by race, sex, and diagnoses, multivariate analyses showed that the women with PTSD had a greater likelihood to report physical abuse (p = 0.03) and sexual abuse histories (p = 0.008) than did the women without PTSD. The men with substance-induced mood disorder (p = 0.01) were more likely to report physical abuse compared with the men without substance-induced mood disorder. Screening for abuse in patients with depressive disorders and PTSD is warranted to tailor individualized treatments for these patients. More research is needed to better understand the potential implications of childhood abuse on psychiatric diagnoses.

*Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore; †Clinical and Translational Science Center, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; ‡Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, GA; and §Talbott Recovery Campus, Atlanta, GA.

Erica Duncan designed the study in consultation with Kelly Skelton, Bekh Bradley, and Richard Amar. Erica Duncan, Maju Mathew Koola, Kelly Skelton, Bekh Bradley, and Richard Amar collected the data. Clifford Qualls performed the statistical analysis. Maju Mathew Koola, Erica Duncan, Deanna L. Kelly, and Clifford Qualls analyzed and interpreted the results. Maju Mathew Koola wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors reviewed, edited, contributed to, and approved the final manuscript.

Send reprint requests to Maju Mathew Koola, MD, DPM, 6501 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21204. E-mail:

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.