The Intersection of Childhood Maltreatment and Marriage: Implications for Adult’s Health

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Child and Family Studies


Childhood maltreatment is associated with mental and physical health problems across the life course. Marriages may be a risk factor for continued mental and physical health problems or, alternatively, they could buffer the effects of maltreatment severity on adult health. Using data from the study of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS), we evaluated marital support and strain as moderators of child maltreatment and adults’ subjective evaluations of physical and mental health in a sample of 760 married adults using the life course perspective. Results show that the interaction between childhood maltreatment severity and marital strain was associated with poorer physical health and was marginally associated with mental health. Marital support did not significantly interact with childhood maltreatment severity in predicting adult mental or physical health. Results suggest maltreatment and marital strain interact resulting in a greater accumulation of disadvantage leaving adults at risk for health problems.

Publication Title

Journal of Family Issues

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