180068 High rates of physical and sexual child abuse among women on welfare: What are the lasting effects?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

E. Anne Lown, DrPH , Alcohol Research Group, Emeryville, CA
Rachael A. Korcha, MA , Alcohol Research Group, Emeryville, CA
Laura A. Schmidt, PhD , Institute for Health Policy Studies and Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Background: Child abuse is associated with multiple psychological and social problems into adulthood. This paper reports the prevalence of physical and sexual child abuse and related psycho-social problems among women on welfare. Methods: This study used data from 484 women from a northern California county who were enrolled in the Welfare Client Longitudinal Study which assessed interpersonal violent victimization, alcohol and drug use, demographic, work, and health factors over five years.

Results: Child abuse was classified into three groups: none (71.1%), moderate (physical assault with no injury) (7.6%) and severe (any sexual assault or any abuse with injury)(21.2%). Average age of first physical abuse was 7.4 and sexual abuse was 8.8 years old. Injury was common from physical and sexual child abuse with 52% and 51% respectively reporting injury. Women with child abuse were more likely to be white, have 3+ children at home, be homeless, have child welfare involvement with their own children, report psychiatric distress, alcohol abuse, and heavy drug use. In multivariate stepwise regression women reporting child abuse had had three key problems including later adult violence, psychiatric distress, and drug use. Discussion: Child abuse was associated with multiple long-term problems in this population of women on welfare which is likely to impair women's ability to function within the welfare system and to lead to long term distress. This finding points to the need for wider public health efforts to prevent child abuse and to develop early monitoring and identification of such abuse to minimize lifelong sequelae.

Learning Objectives:
1) Describe the prevalence of child abuse in this welfare population. 2) Identify demographic, social and behavioral factors associated with child abuse.

Keywords: Child Abuse, Welfare Reform

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I wrote the abstract, oversaw or conducted all analyses, and wrote the grant that funds the work.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.