Scripties UMCG - Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
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Childhood physical or sexual abuse and its long-term cognitive implications.

(2018) Almotawa, A. (Abdullah)

Objective: Childhood physical or sexual abuse is associated with cognitive deficits in children and young adults. Previous studies suggest that the effects of childhood on cognition will persist throughout adulthood; while evidence is growing on the effects of child abuse on adolescents and adults, there is little information on their effect in elderly. The present study investigated, the impact of childhood physical and sexual abuse on cognitive functions.
Method: This study used a longitudinal data which are obtained from an ongoing study (The routine outcome monitoring project (ROM-GPS) of 82 adults aged 60 and older. The research hypothesis was tested by analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), with cognitive functioning as dependent measure and having experienced physical or sexual abuse as independent measure. Participants answered questions about physical or sexual abuse as part of routine clinical care. Global cognition, processing speed, memory (both verbal and working), attention and executive function were assessed via a variety of neuropsychological battery tests.
Result: In this study, the proportion of physically or sexually abused before the age of 16 patients was 39% (n=32). The prevalence of sexual abuse before the age 16 in this study was 20% (n=17) and physical abuse was 25% (n=21).When assessing, the cognitive parameters of the physically or sexually abused group compared to control, there were no significant differences observed across all cognitive domains.
Conclusion: In contrast to our hypothesis, cognitive functioning was not worse in older persons with childhood physical or sexual abuse compared to non-abused older persons. The findings of this study suggest that preexisting psychiatric disorders could influence the analyses of cognitive parameters when assessing the impact of childhood physical or sexual abuse in elderly.

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