Methods. The study utilized cross-sectional data from the 2015 California Behavioral Risk Factor Survey. Participants were randomly selected from a sampling frame of California landline and cellphone users provided by the Center for Disease Control. Researchers called and screened individuals for eligibility and if eligible, conducted the 45-minute phone interview. The original sample included 12,601 multi-ethnic individuals aged between 18 and 99. The current study focused on a subsample of 1,846 Latinx participants (53.9% females, mean age=43.4). Physical and emotional abuse was measured using self-report questions asking individuals if they had experienced childhood emotional or physical abuse. Physical health variables used self-reports and included self-rated health, body mass index, and the presence or absence of various health conditions, such as cardiovascular conditions, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, and depression-related disorders. Likewise, the “number of health conditions” variable was created with all the previously mentioned health conditions to indicate groups with none, 1 condition, 2 or more conditions. The study also created a binary variable indicating having any of the health conditions assessed. A series of chi-square tests were utilized to examine the relationship of physical and emotional abuse and diverse health conditions. Multiple linear regression was conducted to predict BMI, and a binary logistic regression analysis was performed to predict having any health condition from physical abuse, emotional abuse, age, and sex.
Results. Results of the chi-square tests indicated having experienced emotional or physical abuse increased the risk of having health conditions. However, not all experiences of abuse influenced health conditions equally. Individuals with emotional abuse experience were more likely to have arthritis-related disorders, asthma, and depressive disorders than individuals without emotional abuse experience. Participants with physical abuse experience were at a higher risk for diabetes and depressive disorders than participants without physical abuse experience. The binary logistic regression results demonstrated that emotional abuse (OR=1.553, p <.01) and physical abuse (OR=1.346, p<.05) increased the risk of having health conditions. However, the results of multiple regression did not find significant effects of emotional and physical abuse on BMI score.
Implications. Overall, the results support that experiences of emotional and physical abuse increase the risk of adverse health outcomes among the Latinx population. Notably, having experienced childhood emotional or physical abuse increased the frequency of developing one or more health conditions such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes, and depression. The study provided insight into a critical need for preventative mental and physical health care to reduce the impact of childhood abuse experiences on negative health outcomes.