Midlife self-reported social support as a buffer against premature mortality risks associated with childhood abuse

Jessica J. Chiang*, Edith Chen, Gregory E. Miller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research has linked childhood abuse to a plethora of adverse health outcomes in adulthood 1,2 . However, whether positive experiences in adulthood much beyond cessation of abuse exposure can offset these adverse health risks remains unclear. Using a sample of 6,078 adults from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS), we examined whether adult self-reported social support decreased mortality risk associated with self-reported exposure to three types of childhood abuse: severe physical abuse, modest physical abuse and emotional abuse. Greater self-reported social support was related to reduced mortality risk; however, this relation was qualified by exposure to childhood abuse. For each type of abuse, self-reported social support was linked to a larger reduction in mortality risk among individuals reporting childhood abuse compared with those reporting minimal or no exposure to abuse. These findings suggest that supportive relationships in midlife can partly offset the mortality risks that seem to be set in motion by childhood experiences of abuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-268
Number of pages8
JournalNature human behaviour
Volume2
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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