Category: Adult Anxiety

PS2- #A10 - Differentiating the Impact of Childhood Sexual, Physical, and Emotional Abuse on Comorbid Anxiety and Substance Use Disorders: Role of Anxiety Sensitivity

Friday, Nov 17
9:45 AM – 10:45 AM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Adult Anxiety | Child Trauma / Maltreatment | Substance Abuse

Child abuse is an established risk factor for comorbid anxiety and substance use disorders (Gutierres & Todd, 1997; Weiss, Tull, Lavender, & Gratz, 2013; Charney, Palacios-Boix, & Gill, 2007). While support exists for the impact of emotional (Banducci, Lejuez, Dougherty, & MacPherson, 2017; Soenke, Hahn, Tull, & Gratz, 2010), physical (Gutierres & Todd, 1997; Weiss, Tull, Lavender, & Gratz, 2013), and sexual (Molnar, Buka, & Kessler, 2001) abuse on the development of an anxiety disorder, less clear is the relative impact of these different forms of abuse. Moreover, anxiety sensitivity (AS), defined as the fear of anxiety related sensations (Deacon, Abramowitz, Woods, & Tolin, 2003), increases the risk of developing an anxiety disorder (Olatunji & Wolitzky-Taylor, 2009), and using substances to cope with distress (Zvolensky, Marshall, Johnson, & Hogan, 2009). As such, the aims of the current study were twofold. Among 263 treatment seeking substance users (Mean Age= 42.7 years, 70.7% male, 94.7% African American), we first aimed to determine the relative impact of childhood physical, emotional, and sexual abuse on the occurrence of a comorbid anxiety disorder. Second, we aimed to examine whether AS accounts for the relationships determined in Aim 1. Using hierarchical logistical regression, results indicate that childhood sexual abuse uniquely predicts PTSD over and above the effects of childhood emotional abuse and childhood physical abuse (χ2 (1) = 14.537, p p = n.s.; B = 1.012) and childhood physical abuse (χ2 (1) = 0.003, p = n.s.; B= 1.003) did not significantly predict PTSD when accounting for childhood sexual abuse. Furthermore, there was a significant indirect effect of childhood sexual abuse on PTSD through AS (B = 0.026, SE = 0.011, z = 2.378, p < 0.05). The current study confirmed that sexual abuse is a risk factor for PTSD, above and beyond emotional and physical abuse. In addition, the presence of high levels of AS account for this relationship. Future studies examining risk for the development of AS following childhood sexual abuse are warranted.

Julianna M. Maccarone

Social/Clinical Research Coordinator
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Raleigh, North Carolina

Deepika Anand

Post-doctoral research associate
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Raleigh, North Carolina

Sydney Baker

Social/Clinical Research Assistant
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Stacey B. Daughters

Associate Professor
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina