Childhood Maltreatment and Mental and Physical Health in Haitian Adults


  • Donna S. Martsolf

    1. Donna S. Martsolf, PhD, Delta Xi, Associate Professor, Kent State University, Kent, OH. This research was funded by a Fulbright Grant from the U.S. Government. Correspondence to Dr. Martsolf, 347 Henderson Hall, College of Nursing, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242. E-mail:
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Purpose: To describe the prevalence of childhood maltreatment among Haitian adults and to examine its relationship to depression, general physical health, and quality of life.

Design: Descriptive exploratory. Participants were men and women 18 years of age or older who were seated in the waiting area of a hospital-based medical clinic in a medium-sized city in Haiti. The author collected these data while on a Fulbright fellowship to Haiti in 2003.

Methods: Two hundred fifty-eight participants completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, Cohen-Hoberman Inventory of Physical Symptoms, Center for Epidemiologic Study—Depression Scale, and a visual analogue quality of life scale. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, Pearson's correlation, multiple regression, and Student's t test.

Findings: Over half (60%) of the women and 85.7% of the men reported at least one type of childhood maltreatment at the moderate to severe level. Of the total sample, 53.9% had scores indicative of major depression and 43.9% reported an average score of “somewhat bothered” by 37 physical symptoms. Childhood maltreatment (each of five types) was related to physical symptoms and depression.

Conclusions: Rates of childhood maltreatment were high in this sample of Haitian adults, and their childhood maltreatment was related to physical and mental health symptoms in adulthood.