The Consequences of Trauma in Early Life For Adult Mental Health Alison Lowit, Linda Treliving, Ian Reid Aberdeen University NHS Grampian
Background • Research over the past twenty years has shown that Early • Trauma (Childhood Physical, Sexual and Emotional Abuse) is • relatively common in our culture. • Reported prevalence rates range 6-62% for women • 3-31% for Men. • Early Trauma has been linked to many physical health problems, • such as: • Obesity (Williamson et al. 2002) • Gastrointestinal problems (Drossman et al. 1995) • Generalized pain (Kendal-Tackett 2001)
Background • Children who have experienced Early Trauma often grow up to • experience psychological difficulties • Research indicates that prevalence rates for Early Trauma • amongst psychiatric patients are significantly higher than the • general population. • Associated psychological symptoms include: • Depression (Wexler et al 1997) • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Kaplan et al. 2000) • Eating disorders (Tobin & Griffin 1996) • Self mutilation (Lipschitz et al. 1999) • Suicidality (Brodsky et al. 2001)
Background • Early Trauma and Personality Disorder. • There is a high association between early trauma and personality Disorders (Laporte & Guttman 1996), the correlation is most frequently found in patients with Borderline Personality Disorder. (Grilo et al. 1999) • Both early trauma and personality disorder tend to be under • reported and under diagnosed (Herman et al.1999). • The Scottish Executive is trying to address the therapeutic needs of these two neglected groups and recommend that more research is needed to improve care, treatment and prognosis.
Evidence suggests that: • early trauma has a physical effect on the development of the brain • (Vythilingam et al. 2002, Hiem & Nemeroff 2002) • the experience of early trauma affects the way adult patients respond to treatment for various mental health disorders • (Kaplan et al. 2000, Gladstone et al 2004) • There are serious consequences for mental health patients with an unrecognised history of early trauma; both in terms of their prescribed treatment regimes and their long-term prognosis.
Literature review • Indicated that studies investigating the consequences of early trauma are of a very mixed quality. For example: • standardised scales have not been used • frequency and duration of abuse is often ignored • one type of abuse is often studied in isolation • some studies only investigate one psychiatric diagnosis • small sample sizes • to date very little work has been done on any European population
Primary Research Aims. • To determine an accurate estimate of the rate of childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse (early trauma) amongst clients in contact with Mental Health Services in Aberdeen. • To determine the range of psychological distress likely to be associated with early trauma in this population.
Secondary Research Aims • To estimate the prevalence of personality disorder amongst clients in Aberdeen and correlate this with early trauma. • To determine the rate of recording by health care professionals in Aberdeen of early trauma as a possible factor in adult mental illness.
Study design • Inclusion Criteria: • Aged over 18 • A client of the Mental Health Services in Aberdeen. • Able to understand English • Able to give informed consent to participate. • Willing to participate following a description of the study.
Study design • Exclusion Criteria: • Patients unwilling to participate, who do not give their consent • Patients who are deemed unable to give informed consent by the consultant in charge of their care.
Study design Method: A consecutive recruitment/assessment cross-sectional study to estimate the prevalence of early trauma. Study participants: clients in contact with the Mental Health Services, Aberdeen Recruitment: via consultant psychiatrists
Study design • Instruments: three validated questionnaires: • The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire • (CTQ) • The Symptom Checklist 90 Revised • (SCL-90-R) • The Personality Disorder Questionnaire • (PDQ-4)
Method • Originally we planned to use the 3 questionnaires as self-reporting instruments. • Feedback from initial participants indicated that they did not want to complete the 3 questionnaires themselves. • A structured interview format was adopted as this was the method preferred by the initial participants.
Method • Participants were interviewed at the Royal Cornhill Hospital. • Participant’s case notes were reviewed immediately after the interview. • All data was tabulated onto a computer on the same day as the interview.
Questionnaires • The Symptom Checklist 90 Revised (SCL90R) designed to measure current psychological distress. • The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire • (CTQ) designed to screen for histories of abuse and neglect. • The Personality Disorder Questionnaire (PDQ-4) designed to screen for Personality disorders
SCL90-R • A 90-item checklist designed to measure psychological distress • It measures the following primary symptom dimensions: • Somatization • Obsessive-compulsive • Interpersonal sensitivity • Depression • Anxiety • Hostility • Phobic anxiety • Paranoid ideation • Psychoticism
SCL-90-R • measures the following global indices: • Global severity index: combines information concerning the number of symptoms reported with the intensity of perceived distress – best • single indicator of current level of distress • Positive symptom distress index: reflects the average level of distress reported for the symptoms that were endorsed – measure of symptom intensity • Positive symptom total: the symptoms endorsed (regardless of level of distress) - a measure of symptom breadth
The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire • The CTQ screens for 5 types of maltreatment: • Emotional Abuse • Physical Abuse • Sexual Abuse • Emotional Neglect • Physical Neglect
The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire • Participants respond to a series of questions about childhood events, by endorsing one of the following options: • Never True = 1 • Rarely True = 2 • Sometimes True =3 • Often True = 4 • Very Often True = 5
Classification of CTQ Scale Total Scores • In this study participants are considered to have suffered • childhood trauma if they have scored the following for a • category: (shaded area of table) • Emotional Abuse 13 and above • Physical Abuse 10 and above • Sexual Abuse 8 and above • Emotional Neglect 15 and above • Physical Neglect 10 and above
PDQ-4 • PDQ-4 is designed to assess 12 personality disorders. • Paranoid • Schizoid • Schizotypal • Histrionic • Narcissistic • Borderline • Antisocial • Avoidant • Dependent • Obsessive Compulsive • Negativistic • Depressed
PDQ-4 • PDQ-4 is a series of 99 true/false questions • Each question describes a behavioral pattern that is consistent with a symptom of a personality disorder. • Patients are asked • to think about how they have tended to feel, think, and • act over the past several years. • whether each description is "generally true“ or "generally false" of them. • If the patient indicates a sufficient number questions that are related to a specific personality disorder are True for them, an additional series of questions are asked in the Clinical Significance Scale section of the test.
PDQ-4 • The total PDQ-4 score is an index of overall personality disturbance. • Controls generally score 20 or less. • Patients in therapy generally score between 20-30. • A total score of 30 or more indicates a substantial likelihood that the patient has significant personality disturbance.
PDQ-4 • Participants included in the PD group • scoring positively for a specific PD • total score of 30 or above • Participants not included in PD group • scoring positively for a specific PD • total score of less than 30
Results • Interviewed 136 inpatients
Early Trauma • 90 of the 136 Psychiatric Inpatients have experienced moderate/severe early trauma.(66%) • 48/74 Males (64%) • 42/62 Females (67%) • 60 of the 90 participants who have experience early trauma have this recorded in their psychiatric medical records. (66%)
PDQ4 95 of the 136 participants have significant personality disturbance.(70%) 58/74 Males (78%) 37/62 Females (60%) 20 of the 95 participants who have significant personality disturbance have a recorded diagnosis of PD. (21%)
Personality Disorder and Early Trauma • 70 of the 95 participants with significant personality disturbance have experienced moderate/severe early trauma. (74%) • 43/58 Males (74%) • 27/37 Females (73%)
Personality Disorder and Early Trauma Chi-square Test: 6.86 p=0.009
Determining the range of psychological distress associated with early trauma in the inpatient population. • Comparisons were made between the ET and Non-ET groups. • Comparisons were made within same sex and between genders.
Gender comparisons • Few studies have investigated gender differences in the long term effects of ET. • Those that have suggest that there are more similarities than differences between men and women survivors of ET. • However, epidemiologically, men and women in the overall population report different symptoms and severity of symptoms. • Those gender differences are confounding factors that may distort the interpretation of the results. • In order to get a true picture of the long term effects of ET on male and female populations we need to take into account the gender differences in the general population when analysing the results.
Gender comparisons To take into account the inherent symptom differences between males and females in the general population, we used a standard normalised T score (Derogatis 1994) • The SCL-90-R unadjusted scores are the respondents actual results upon completion of the questionnaire. • The SCL-90-R adjusted scores are the unadjusted scores transformed by converting to a normalised T score using a non-patient normative sample.
Psychological Symptom Comparisons. Six analysis were performed: • ET females compared to ET males – unadjusted • ET females compared to ET males – adjusted • N-ET females compared to N-ET males – unadjusted • N-ET females compared to N-ET males – adjusted • ET females compared to N-ET females – unadjusted • ET males compared to N-ET males – unadjusted (ET = Early Trauma; N-ET = No Early Trauma)
Adjusted Scores ** ** ** ** * ** ** ** ** *p<0.05, **p<0.01
Males & Females with Early Trauma Summary • Unadjusted score comparisons – no significant differences emerge • Adjusted score comparisons – significant differences become apparent.
Males & Females with Early Trauma Summary • Males scored significantly higher for: Somatization, Obsessive-compulsive, Interpersonal sensitivity, Depression, Anxiety, Phobic anxiety, Paranoid ideation, Psychoticism, Global severity Index and Positive symptom Total. • ET males had higher symptom scores relative to males in the SCL-90-R non-patient standardised sample than did ET females relative to their standardised sample.
Unadjusted Scores * * ** * * *p<0.05, **p<0.01
Adjusted Scores * *p<0.05
N-ET Males & Females • Unadjusted score comparisons – female scores were significantly higher for: Somatization, Interpersonal sensitivity, Depression, Global severity index and Positive symptom distress index. • Adjusted score comparisons – These Significant differences disappear when scores are adjusted to account for inherent gender differences.
Female Inpatients ET & N-ET • No Significant differences between the groups. • We suspect no significant differences emerged because the study was conducted amongst a highly distressed female population who had already reached the symptom ceiling capable of being detected by the SCL-90-R, and further elevated symptoms would not be picked up by this symptom checklist instrument.
Male Inpatients ET & N-ET • ET males scored significantly higher than N-ET males for all symptom dimension and global indices. • This is evidence that ET has a profound effect on males, and even amongst the generally distressed inpatient male population there is a highly significant elevation of symptoms for males who have experienced ET. • This also indicates the value of standardising scores (for example using T-scores) when undertaking gender comparisons.
Diagnosis and nature of trauma Mean score