Category: Cultural Diversity / Vulnerable Populations

PS8- #C66 - Ethnic Identity and Childhood Maltreatment and Adult Mental Health Outcomes in Moderate- to Heavy-Drinking Men

Saturday, Nov 18
8:30 AM – 9:30 AM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Race / Ethnicity | Child Trauma / Maltreatment | Adult Depression

There is a consistent, strong association between childhood maltreatment and adult depression and anxiety. Ethnic identity – a multi-dimensional, dynamic construct that captures one’s sense of belonging to one’s ethnic group, as well as exploration of and commitment to said identity –consistently buffers against the stress of discrimination for many racial and ethnic groups. Few studies have examined the role of ethnic identity in the relationship between distal experiences of stress, such as childhood maltreatment, and adult mental health outcomes. We hypothesized that ethnic identity would moderate the association between childhood maltreatment and depressive and anxiety symptoms: for those with high levels of ethnic identity, the association between childhood maltreatment and adult mental health outcomes will be weaker than for those with low ethnic identity. Further, this association will be strongest for men who identify as members of racial and ethnic minority groups and who experienced high levels of childhood maltreatment. Our sample consisted of 313 single, male, moderate to heavy drinkers from the community who were recruited for an alcohol study; 67% identified as non-Hispanic white, and 33% identified as members of racial and ethnic minority groups. Participants completed measures of self-reported race and ethnicity, ethnic identity, childhood maltreatment, and depressive and anxiety symptoms. Regression analyses yielded a significant three-way interaction between childhood maltreatment, ethnic identity, and race for both depressive and anxiety symptoms. These models accounted for 9.3% of the variance of depressive symptoms and 8.3% of anxiety symptoms. Simple slope analyses indicated that, among men who identified as members of racial and ethnic minority groups with both low and high levels of childhood maltreatment, ethnic identity was negatively associated with depressive symptoms and anxiety symptoms. These relationships were strongest among men with high levels of childhood maltreatment who identified as members of racial and ethnic minority groups. Exploratory analyses found similar trends for depressive symptoms among specific subsamples. No such relations were found among non-Hispanic white men. Findings from this study suggest that ethnic identity may buffer against the effects of childhood maltreatment on adult mental health outcomes for men who identified as members of racial and ethnic minority groups, particularly among those who experienced high levels of maltreatment. These findings have important implications for interventions with childhood maltreatment survivors. They also suggest that further research would benefit from addressing  ethnic identity as a protective factor among specific, different racial and ethnic groups.

Elizabeth C. Neilson

Doctoral Student
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington

Charlotte D. Brill

Doctoral Student
University of Washington

Melissa L. Gasser

Doctoral Student
University of Washington

William H. George

Professor
University of Washington

Kelly Davis

Associate Research Professor
University of Washington