William C. Holmes, MD, MSCE; Mary D. Sammel, ScD
Grant Support: Dr. Holmes was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (DA015635).
Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.
Requests for Single Reprints: William C. Holmes, MD, MSCE, Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 733 Blockley Hall, 423 Guardian Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6021; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current Author Addresses: Drs. Holmes and Sammel: Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 733 Blockley Hall, 423 Guardian Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6021.
Author Contributions: Conception and design: W.C. Holmes.
Analysis and interpretation of the data: W.C. Holmes, M.D. Sammel.
Drafting of the article: W.C. Holmes.
Critical revision of the article for important intellectual content: W.C. Holmes, M.D. Sammel.
Final approval of the article: W.C. Holmes, M.D. Sammel.
Provision of study materials or patients: W.C. Holmes.
Statistical expertise: M.D. Sammel.
Obtaining of funding: W.C. Holmes.
Administrative, technical, or logistic support: W.C. Holmes.
Collection and assembly of data: W.C. Holmes.
Men's childhood physical abuse experiences are understudied.
To obtain descriptions about men's personal childhood physical abuse histories and estimate their association with adult outcomes.
Population-based telephone survey.
Urban areas with high frequency of domestic violence against girls and women.
298 men recruited through random-digit dialing.
6 Conflict Tactics Scale items and psychiatric, sexual, and legal history questions.
One hundred of 197 (51%) participants had a history of childhood physical abuse. Most (73%) participants were abused by a parent. Childhood physical abuse history was associated with depression symptoms (P = 0.003), post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms (P < 0.001), number of lifetime sexual partners (P = 0.035), legal troubles (P = 0.002), and incarceration (P = 0.007) in unadjusted analyses and with depression symptoms (P = 0.015) and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms (P = 0.003) in adjusted analyses.
There may have been inaccurate recall of past events. Lack of exposure time data disallowed direct comparison of abuse perpetration by mothers versus fathers. Other unmeasured variables related to childhood physical abuse might better explain poor adult outcomes.
The high frequency of childhood physical abuse histories in this population-based male sample, coupled with the high proportion of parent perpetrators and the association between childhood physical abuse and adult outcomes that are often associated with perpetration of violence, argues for more study of and clinical attentiveness to potential adult outcomes of men's own childhood physical abuse histories.
Boys are sometimes victims of physical abuse, and fathers are often identified as the perpetrators. Whether abused boys become abusing men is conjectural.
Interviewers surveyed a randomly selected sample of 197 men from neighborhoods with a high prevalence of HIV infection. Of the men, 51% had experienced childhood physical abuse, which was severe in 57%. Compared with men who had not experienced childhood physical abuse, men who did had more symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome as adults.
Unidentified conditions during childhood may lead to both physical abuse and poor adult outcomes.
Domestic physical abuse of boys was common in this sample of men. Being abused is associated with psychiatric illness in adult life.
Disposition of all calls ordered by screenability and frequencies of status.
Conflict Tactics Scale items.
Table 1. Types of Abuse
Table 2. Abuse Prevalence by Sociodemographic Characteristic
Table 3. Principal Living Arrangement during Childhood and Abuse Status
Table 4. Long-Term Outcomes Potentially Associated with Childhood Physical Abuse
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Holmes WC, Sammel MD. Brief Communication: Physical Abuse of Boys and Possible Associations with Poor Adult Outcomes. Ann Intern Med. 2005;143:581-586. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-143-8-200510180-00008
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2005;143(8):581-586.
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