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Maltreatment Characteristics and Emotion Regulation (ER) Difficulties as Predictors of Mental Health Symptoms: Results From a Community-Recruited Sample of Female Adolescents

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2015
10 pages
Since mental health outcomes vary among maltreated youth, and the factors that impact variance need further investigation, this study examined how maltreatment characteristics (age at onset, cumulative perpetrators, and cumulative types) and difficulties with emotion regulation (ER) predicted trauma-relevant symptoms among a community-recruited sample of female adolescents with histories of exposure to violence (N = 115; M(SD) age = 15.96 (1.56) years).
In order to predict each trauma-relevant symptom (i.e. anger, anxiety, depression, dissociation, and posttraumatic stress (PTS), a hierarchical two-step regression was conducted. For Step 1, maltreatment characteristics, taken together, predicted variance in four of five symptoms: anger, anxiety, dissociation, and posttraumatic stress (PTS). Above and beyond variance accounted for by maltreatment characteristics, age at onset predicted variance in anger, anxiety, and PTS symptoms. For Step 2, ER difficulties predicted variance in all symptoms. Findings highlight the need for further research about how maltreatment histories impact subsequent mental health. Results also suggest that ER difficulties should be increasingly considered in models of posttraumatic distress among maltreated youth. (Publisher abstract modified)
Date Published: April 1, 2015