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From Childhood Maltreatment to Allostatic Load in Adulthood: The Role of Social Support

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2015
11 pages
This study used data from a prospective cohort design study to examine the stability of social support from childhood through middle adulthood in individuals with documented histories of childhood abuse and neglect and matched controls (aged 0–11) and assessed the impact of social support on allostatic load, a composite measure of physiological stress response assessed through blood tests and physical measurements, in middle adulthood.
Although previous research has documented that social support acts as a protective factor for individuals exposed to trauma, most research relies on assessments of social support at one point in time. The current study found that maltreated children were more likely to have unstable social support across the life span compared to matched controls. Social support across the life span partially mediated the relationship between child maltreatment and allostatic load in adulthood, although there were differences by race and sex. These findings have implications for interventions to prevent the negative consequences of child maltreatment. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: November 1, 2015