Timing of Child Maltreatment and Alcohol Use in Young Adulthood
Methods: Participants for the study were recruited through community advertisements within the local metropolitan area, using online and offline bulletin postings. The average age of the sample (N=300) was 21.73 years (SD=2.10) and slightly more than half were female (51.5%). A majority of the sample was non-Hispanic white (58%), while 16% were black, 8.3% were Asian, 7.3% were Hispanic, and 10% were of other ethnic or racial groups. Using the community sample of young individuals, we performed latent class analyses (LCA) to identify homogenous groups of young people with similar patterns of physical abuse timing. Second, timing of childhood physical abuse was also characterized in terms of developmental periods (i.e., infancy/preschool, middle childhood, adolescence). Multiple linear and logistic regression models were used in an effort to examine the associations between physical abuse timing and four types of drinking behaviors including drinking frequency, binge drinking, alcohol-related problems, and alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Results: LCA identified three heterogeneous classes of young people distinguished by quantitative differences in child physical abuse timing including no physical abuse, post-pubertal physical abuse, and chronic physical abuse. Regression models indicated that chronic physical abuse was associated with all drinking behaviors (β = 0.45 – 0.88) with the exception of AUD, whereas post-pubertal physical abuse was associated with drinking frequency (β = .41) and binge drinking (odds ratio = 2.74). Finally, using the developmental period method, our analyses also revealed that physical abuse that has occurred in adolescence predicted drinking frequency (β = .52) and alcohol use problems (β = .58).
Implications: The present study suggests that timing of child physical abuse may play a significant role in linking child physical abuse to problematic alcohol use in young adulthood. The results of this research suggest that adolescent physical abuse and chronic childhood physical abuse are particularly related to drinking behaviors in young adulthood.