A new study found an important link between traumatic childhood experiences and worse health outcomes in later life.
The Coping with HIV/AIDS in the Southeast (CHASE) study followed more than 600 HIV patients, aged 20 to 71, over a two-year period. According to the researchers, more than half of these patients had experienced abuse in their lifetimes, one in four was sexually abused as a child. Often these patients also had suffered other lifetime traumas such as witnessing domestic violence as a child, a parent’s suicide attempt or completion, or losing a child.
“For whatever outcome we looked at, psychological trauma ended up being a predictor of worse medical outcomes and poorer health-related behaviors,” says lead author Brian Pence, a Duke associate professor of community and family medicine and global health.
“We hope that this study spurs further research into understanding how early trauma affects behaviors and health much later in life,” Pence says. “Regardless of the reason, past trauma certainly seems to influence how HIV patients engage in their medical care and how they end up doing clinically.”
Source: Duke University
Pence BW, Mugavero MJ, Carter TJ, Leserman J, Thielman NM, Raper JL, Proeschold-Bell RJ, Reif S, & Whetten K (2012). Childhood Trauma and Health Outcomes in HIV-Infected Patients: An Exploration of Causal Pathways. Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes (1999), 59 (4), 409-416 PMID: 22107822
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