Hillberg, Tanja (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
The aim of this thesis was to investigate the role of childhood maltreatment (CM) and witnessing intimate partner violence (W.IPV) on childhood behaviour and mental health (MH). The complex interaction of risk, protection and mediating factors are considered in the ecological model (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Part I of the thesis provides a systematic examination of the literature. Chapter 1 considered the strengths and weaknesses of existing meta-analytical reviews on the association between childhood sexual abuse and adult psychopathology. This highlighted the need to address issues of study validity. Chapter 2 reviews the link between CM and childhood behavioural and emotional difficulties, concluding that the same vulnerability to these difficulties exists in childhood as in adulthood. The ecological model provides a structure for understanding how a combination of contextual levels influences a child’s vulnerability. Part II investigates the relationship between CM and MH outcomes. Chapter 3 examines the effect of CM and/or W.IPV in a community sample, highlighting the mediating properties of emotion regulation and pro-social behaviour. In a clinical sample, concurrent W.IPV/CM was associated with more adverse outcomes at pre-treatment (Chapters 4,5,7) and post-treatment (Chapter 5), as well as recurrent re-referrals to MH services (Chapter 6). Parental nationality (Chapter 4, 5), maternal economic/housing difficulties (Chapters 5, 6), and peer friendship difficulties (Chapters 4, 5, 6) were consistently found to have a short-term, rather than a long-term effect, on a child’s well-being. The results of the thesis are discussed in terms of policies and practical implications for future research.
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