The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA

3342.0: Monday, November 11, 2002 - 9:15 PM

Abstract #46147

Physical abuse and alcohol problems among African American crack using women

William A. Zule, DrPH, Wendy K.K. Lam, PhD, and Wendee Wechsberg, PhD. Substance Abuse Treatment Evaluations and Interventions, Research Triangle Institute, PO Box 12194, 3040 Cornwallis Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2194, 919.485.2797,

High rates of alcohol and other drug abuse, psychological distress, and HIV risk have been observed among African-American women who report histories of childhood physical and sexual abuse. In a study funded by NIDA, we examined the association between age of first physical abuse and current alcohol problems among 660 out-of-treatment crack-using African-American women. Participants were recruited in North Carolina using standard street outreach techniques between January 1999 and August 2001. Alcohol problems were assessed using the Brief Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (BMAST), which was revised to assess problems within the past 90 days rather than lifetime. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to assess the association between age of first physical abuse and BMAST scores while examining the potential mediating effects of psychological distress (depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder) and controlling for background characteristics. Younger age of first physical abuse was strongly associated with higher scores on the BMAST (p < .001). The relationship was mediated by anxiety and PTSD, suggesting both a direct and indirect relationship between age of first physical abuse and current alcohol problems. Other variables that we had hypothesized would be associated with BMAST scores including history of sexual abuse and trading sex for money or drugs were not significant in the model. Findings suggest that age of first physical abuse is a strong predictor of alcohol problems even among crack-using women who suffer from other severe problems. Findings also highlight the importance of preventing childhood abuse in reducing alcohol problems and psychological distress.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this session, participants will be able to

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Special Populations - What People Do

The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA