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Childhood abuse and neglect and physical health at midlife: Prospective, longitudinal evidence

  • William F. Johnson (a1), Chloe O. Huelsnitz (a1), Elizabeth A. Carlson (a1), Glenn I. Roisman (a1), Michelle M. Englund (a1), Gregory E. Miller (a2) and Jeffry A. Simpson (a1)...


Previous research suggests that the experience of abuse and neglect in childhood has negative implications for physical health in adulthood. Using data from the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation (N = 115), the present research examined the predictive significance of childhood physical abuse, sexual abuse, and physical/cognitive neglect for multilevel assessments of physical health at midlife (age 37–39 years), including biomarkers of cardiometabolic risk, self-reports of quality of health, and a number of health problems. Analyses revealed that childhood physical/cognitive neglect, but not physical or sexual abuse, predicted all three health outcomes in middle adulthood, even when controlling for demographic risk factors and adult health maintenance behaviors. We discuss possible explanations for the unique significance of neglect in this study and suggest future research that could clarify previous findings regarding the differential impact of different types of abuse and neglect on adult health.


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Address correspondence and reprint requests to: William F. Johnson or Jeffry A. Simpson, Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, 75 East River Parkway, Minneapolis, MN 55455; E-mail: or


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This project was supported by National Institute on Aging Grant R01 AG039453 (to J.A.S.), which supported the most recent assessments of the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation.



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