Methods: This study analyzed data from the Population Study of Chinese Elderly in Chicago (PINE), a population-based epidemiological study (N=3158). Screening questions were used to identify the physical, verbal, and emotional dimensions of past child abuse and intimate partner violence (IPV). Elder mistreatment was measured using a 10-item self-reported instrument, derived from the Hwalek–Sengstok Elder Abuse Screening Test (H-S/EAST) and the Vulnerability to Abuse Screening Scale. The dependent variable was measured using the Trust in Physician Scale. Model covariates were included based on the behavioral model.
Results: Elder mistreatment was endorsed by 15% of the sample, child abuse by 11%, and IPV by 6%. The mean value of the Trust in Physician Scale was 42.0 (range 12-55, sd=6.4). Spearman correlation results showed significant, negative relationships among trust in physicians and child abuse (r=-.11, p<.001), IPV (r=-.09, p<.001), and elder mistreatment (r=-.14, p<.001). Hierarchical OLS regression modeling showed the independent effects of child abuse (b=-1.04, p=.004), IPV (b=-1.35, p=.007), and elder mistreatment (b=-1.73, p<.0001) on trust in physicians. Among the behavioral model covariates, overall health status (b=.62, p=.01), satisfaction with insurance (b=2.63, p<.0001), speaking Chinese only (b=.79, p=.006) were each associated with increased trust in physicians.
Conclusions and Implications: The experience of child abuse, intimate partner violence, and elder mistreatment has deleterious effects on trust in physicians. With implications for help-seeking behaviors that rely upon interpersonal trust, this study extends the effects of trauma across the life course. Implications for social work research and trauma-informed practice will be discussed.