Physical Punishment and Mental Disorders: Results From a Nationally Representative US Sample

Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, S113-750 Bannatyne Ave, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3E 0W5.
PEDIATRICS (Impact Factor: 5.47). 07/2012; 130(2):184-92. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2011-2947
Source: PubMed


The use of physical punishment is controversial. Few studies have examined the relationship between physical punishment and a wide range of mental disorders in a nationally representative sample. The current research investigated the possible link between harsh physical punishment (ie, pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, hitting) in the absence of more severe child maltreatment (ie, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, exposure to intimate partner violence) and Axis I and II mental disorders.
Data were from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions collected between 2004 and 2005 (N = 34653). The survey was conducted with a representative US adult population sample (aged ≥ 20 years). Statistical methods included logistic regression models and population-attributable fractions.
Harsh physical punishment was associated with increased odds of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug abuse/dependence, and several personality disorders after adjusting for sociodemographic variables and family history of dysfunction (adjusted odds ratio: 1.36-2.46). Approximately 2% to 5% of Axis I disorders and 4% to 7% of Axis II disorders were attributable to harsh physical punishment.
Harsh physical punishment in the absence of child maltreatment is associated with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse/dependence, and personality disorders in a general population sample. These findings inform the ongoing debate around the use of physical punishment and provide evidence that harsh physical punishment independent of child maltreatment is related to mental disorders.

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    • "However, using a well-established measure of parenting practices we were able to examine physical punishment, which lies on a continuum with childhood maltreatment. Second, whilst our decision to create a binary variable indexing physical punishment based on a rating of 'sometimes or more' was guided by previous research (Afifi et al. 2012), this is an arbitrary cut-off, and reducing a complex exposure into a single indicator may lack clinical validity. Third, our ability to measure levels of distress relating to negative life events at the time which they occurred may be limited due to problems with recall. "
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    ABSTRACT: Pituitary volume enlargements have been observed among individuals with first-episode psychosis. These abnormalities are suggestive of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis hyperactivity, which may contribute to the development of psychosis. However, the extent to which these abnormalities characterize individuals at elevated risk for schizophrenia prior to illness onset is currently unclear, as volume increases, decreases and no volume differences have all been reported relative to controls. The current study aimed to determine whether antipsychotic-naive, putatively at-risk children who present multiple antecedents of schizophrenia (ASz) or a family history of illness (FHx) show pituitary volume abnormalities relative to typically developing (TD) children. An additional aim was to explore the association between pituitary volume and experiences of psychosocial stress. ASz (n = 30), FHx (n = 22) and TD (n = 32) children were identified at age 9-12 years using a novel community-screening procedure or as relatives of individuals with schizophrenia. Measures of pituitary volume and psychosocial stress were obtained at age 11-14 years. Neither ASz nor FHx children showed differences in pituitary volume relative to TD children. Among FHx children only, pituitary volume was negatively associated with current distress relating to negative life events and exposure to physical punishment. The lack of pituitary volume abnormalities among ASz and FHx children is consistent with our previous work demonstrating that these children are not characterized by elevated diurnal cortisol levels. The findings imply that these biological markers of HPA axis hyperactivity, observed in some older samples of high-risk individuals, may emerge later, more proximally to disease onset.
    Psychological Medicine 07/2015; -1(15):1-12. DOI:10.1017/S0033291715001282 · 5.94 Impact Factor
    • "Being female was associated with depression among older respondents (65 and older; Gureje, Kola, & Afolabi, 2007), university students (Adewuya, Ola, Olutayo, Mapayi, & Oginni, 2006), and adolescents (Adeniyi et al., 2011; Adewuya & Ologun, 2006). Findings outside Nigeria also support the notion that being female is related to depression (Afifi, 2012; Bayram & Bilgel, 2008; Dahlin, Joneborg, & Runeson, 2005; Jadoon, Yaqoob, Raza, Asif Shehzad, & Choudhry, 2010; Khan, Mahmood, Badshah, Ali, & Jamal, 2006; Maughan et al., 2013; Ozdemir & Rezaki, 2007), particularly somatic depression (Silverstein et al., 2013), although Al-Qaisy (2011) found men to be more depressed than women. Similar to depression, anxiety disorders are more common among females than males (Costello et al., 2003; Young et al., 1997). "
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    ABSTRACT: Despite the exposure of children to physical abuse in more than one setting in many regions of the world, little is known about the associations of physical abuse in different settings (e.g., at home and school) with anxiety disorders and depression among adolescents and youths. Using a convenience sample of 502 adolescents and youths ages 13-23 years from five public and three private senior secondary schools in Nigeria, the study examined associations of gender and physical abuse by parents with anxiety disorders as well as associations of physical abuse by parents and/or teachers with depression in the sample, 39.6% of whom had experienced physical abuse at home and in school. Findings suggest that physical abuse by parents was associated with anxiety disorders and depression than physical abuse by teachers. Being female was equally associated with anxiety disorders. Implications of findings for mental health, practice, research, and theory are discussed. Copyright © 2015 The Foundation for Professionals in Services for Adolescents. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Journal of Adolescence 04/2015; 42:1-10. DOI:10.1016/j.adolescence.2015.03.012 · 2.05 Impact Factor
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    • "There is growing consonance in the research literature demonstrating that physical punishment of children is associated with problematic outcomes such as child behavior problems and poorer mental and physical health (Afifi et al., 2012; Gershoff, 2002; Gershoff et al., 2010, 2012; Grogan-Kaylor, 2004; Maguire-Jack et al., 2012; Taylor, Manganello, et al., 2010). As such, many arguments in favor of spanking are increasingly being called into question by empirical evidence. "
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    Child abuse & neglect 05/2014; 38(5). DOI:10.1016/j.chiabu.2014.01.018 · 2.34 Impact Factor
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