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Consequenses of childhood adversity on health concerns in adulthood

G Adejuwon


This study investigated the extent to which childhood adversity experiences through parental divorce, death or separation, contributed to the health condition of adult Nigerian workers. 440 respondents (mean age = 39.77, SD = 8.66), comprised of 228 males and 212 females, completed and returned the study questionnaire. Of this number 208 respondents (Males = 118, Females = 90) reported having experienced the loss of both or one of their parents before age 17.The analyses of the data showed that adults who experienced childhood adversity through parental loss, death or separation, scored significantly higher on measures of depression t (438) = -2.42, P < .05) and acute health problems t (438) = -2.14, P < .05) than adults who did not. Social/emotional support decreases with increase in age among those who reported childhood adversity ( r = - .105, p< .05) and levels of depression increases with decrease in social/emotional support ( r = -.194, p< .01). Both males and females who experienced childhood adversity have similar levels of depression, acute and chronic health. Childhood adversity contributed 12% of the variance in depression at adulthood and 10% of the acute health conditions of the adults. These findings indicate that a significant proportion of the population of working class adult Nigerians who experienced childhood adversity may be experiencing health problems.
Conclusively, although the incidence of parental loss may seem inevitable, particularly death, it is important to have a better understanding of how parental loss in early childhood is linked with the health concerns in adulthood. Such knowledge would aid in the development of preventive intervention program and the point at which such an intervention could be introduced. Small sample size may limit the generalization of the study. A larger study is therefore required in Nigeria to explain the pathways linking childhood adversity to physical health in adulthood.

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