Adverse childhood experiences and early-adult somatization: the role of romantic attachment in a female group


  • M.E. Brianda
  • C. Sacchi
  • P. De Carli
  • A. Simonelli


Background: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are proved to be related to, or even predictive of, several psychological and physical latter impairments. Somatization has a higher incidence among individuals with a history of ACEs and among females. Studies highlighted the importance to investigate the role of mediating factors between childhood maltreatment and adult symptomatology. Although little is known about the specific case of somatic unexplained symptoms, its relation with childhood maltreatment seems to be influenced by the role of romantic attachment. The main objective of our study is to check the effect of emotional ACEs on early-adult somatization through the mediation of avoidance and anxiety levels of romantic attachment in a female group. Methods: Participants were 346 female students (mean age=23.17) who completed a self-report protocol composed by the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire-Short Form (CTQ-SF), the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale-Revised (ECR-R) and the Symptom Check-List (SCL-90). A structural equation modeling has been applied in order to test the mediation of romantic attachment (ECR-R) in the relation between emotional maltreatment (CTQ-SF) and somatic symptoms (SCL-90). Findings: The total model fit resulted adequate and it proved that romantic attachment mediates the relation between emotional maltreatment and adult somatization (b=.15, SE=0.05, z=2.76, p=.006, 95% CI [0.04, 0.25]). Discussion: Our results stress the importance to consider the relational level within intervention programs for female victims of adverse childhood experiences. Addressing the treatment of these individuals towards adult relational functioning might prevent negative effects of ACEs and thus reduce public health costs.





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