Patterns of childhood adversity and their associations with internalizing and externalizing problems among at-risk boys and girls

Ida Haahr Pedersen, Philip Hyland, Maj Hansen, Camila Perera, Pernille Spitz, Rikke Holm Bramsen, Frederique Vallieres

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Abstract

Background: Different types of childhood adversity often cluster and overlap, underlining the importance of studying likely patterns of adversity co-occurrences and their impact on child functioning. Further sex-specific investigations of adversity co-occurrences and their associations with child mental health are warranted. Objective: To investigate if different sex-specific patterns of childhood adversity exist among at risk-children living in Denmark and to explore if divergent constellations of adversity are differentially associated with externalizing and internalizing problems. Participants and setting: Participants (N = 2198) were a sample of children ages 1–17 who have been in contact with the Danish child protection system due to suspected child abuse. The study included existing data collected as a part of child case procedures. Method: Latent class analysis was used to identify patterns of adversity co-occurrences among girls and boys, respectively. Inter-class differences on age and child mental health were assessed using ANOVAs. Results: Greater variation and complexity in adversity exposure was found among girls (5 classes) compared to boys (3 classes). The female classes differed on age (p < .001, η2 = 0.06), internalizing (p < .001, η2 = 0.05), and externalizing problems (p = .002, η2 = 0.02). The male classes differed on internalizing (p < .001, η2 = 0.02) and externalizing problems (p < .001, η2 = 0.04). Overall, classes characterized by multiple adversities displayed higher scores of mental health problems compared to less exposed classes. Conclusions: Exposure to multiple adversities is common among at-risk children. Information on different sex-specific patterns of adversity co-occurrences can guide intervention planning for affected children.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummer105272
TidsskriftChild Abuse & Neglect
Vol/bind121
ISSN0145-2134
DOI
StatusUdgivet - nov. 2021

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