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Keywords:

  • adolescent;
  • alcohol;
  • child abuse;
  • depression;
  • health status

Aims:  The aim of the present study was to investigate the magnitude and independence of the effects of childhood physical abuse on adolescent depression, problem drinking and perceived poor mental health in Taiwanese indigenous and non-indigenous adolescents living in rural areas controlling for individual and familial characteristics.

Methods:  A sample of adolescents was randomly selected from junior high schools in the rural areas of southern Taiwan. The associations between childhood physical abuse and adolescent depression, problem drinking and perceived poor health status were examined on univariate and multivariate logistic regression.

Results:  Of the 1684 adolescents who completed the questionnaires, 374 (22.2%) reported that they had experienced physical abuse in childhood. Controlling for individual and familial factors, childhood physical abuse significantly increased the risk of depression, problem drinking and perceived poor health status in the present sample of adolescents on multivariate logistic regression.

Conclusion:  History of childhood physical abuse should be elicited from adolescents in treatment for depression, alcohol abuse or physical discomfort of unknown etiology. This finding may be of clinical benefit in terms of the design and implementation of intervention.