Childhood physical punishment, abuse tied to adult antisocial behavior

  • Afifi TO & al.
  • JAMA Netw Open
  • 4 Jan 2019

  • curated by Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Harsh physical punishment and maltreatment during childhood may account for 46.7% of antisocial adult behavior in the United States.

Why this matters

  • Prior studies suggested that antisocial behaviors may be more common in men; this study found that the associations between harsh physical punishment and child maltreatment and antisocial behavior were similar between sexes.

Study design

  • The study used data from the National Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions Wave 3 to evaluate 36,309 adults (age, ≥18 years).
  • Primary outcome: lifetime antisocial personality disorder behaviors from 15 years of age.
  • Funding: Canadian Institutes for Health Research New Investigator Award.

Key results

  • Adult antisocial behaviors was associated with:
    • only harsh physical punishment (adjusted β, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.50-0.75),
    • only child maltreatment (adjusted β, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.60-0.69), or
    • both harsh physical punishment and child maltreatment (adjusted β, 1.46; 95% CI, 1.38-1.54).
  • In the general population, harsh physical punishment and maltreatment during childhood may account for 46.7% (95% CI, 44.4%-48.8%) of antisocial adult behavior.
  • In men and women, harsh physical punishment and maltreatment during childhood may account for 47.3% (95% CI, 44.0%-50.6%) and 45.5% (95% CI, 42.1%-48.9%) of antisocial adult behavior, respectively.

Limitations

  • Cross-sectional data.
  • Causal relationship cannot be inferred.

Coauthored with Antara Ghosh, PhD

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