Online Program

Childhood maltreatment and exhibition of mental and sexual health problems among young adult Asian-American women

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hyeouk Chris Hahm, PhD, LCSW, School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA
Lauren Melissa Alexander, School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA
Christine Chiao, Boston University, Boston, MA
Jessica Chmielewski, School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA
Background/Significance: Asian-American women aged 15 to 24 had the highest rate of suicide among all racial groups from 2007 to 2009. Additionally, Asian-American adolescent girls reported the highest rates of depression compared to both genders and other races of classmates. Studies have also shown that maltreatment experienced in childhood is associated with mental health and sexual health problems among various racial/ethnic groups of women. However, scant research has explored the context in which childhood maltreatment was experienced and how childhood maltreatment affects Asian-American women's health in young adulthood. Thus, the purpose of this study is to understand how childhood maltreatment may contribute to mental health problems and various self-harming behaviors among young Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean women who are children of immigrants. Methods: As part of the Asian-American Women's Sexual Health Initiative Project (AWSHIP), 36 young adult Asian-American women participated in semi-structured, in-depth interviews. Three members of the AWSHIP research team, guided by grounded theory, analyzed the qualitative interviews using line-by-line coding and compared emergent themes and core variables to ensure reliability. Results: Of the 36 interview participants, 14 women reported experiences of physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse during childhood. Also, childhood maltreatment contributed to exhibition of 4 types of mental and sexual health problems in young adulthood: (1) suicidal ideation/suicidal attempts, (2) self-harm, (3) overuse of alcohol and/or drugs, and (4) risky sexual behaviors (e.g., multiple/risky sexual partners, unwanted pregnancy, unprotected sex). Discussion/Conclusions: Identification of childhood maltreatment victims and provision of interventions that address child abuse, immigrant parent-child cultural conflicts, and family communication problems may help reduce potential mental and sexual health problems among Asian-American women.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Analyze key contexts in which Asian-American women experience maltreatment during childhood. Assess the relationship between childhood maltreatment and subsequent mental and sexual health in young adult Asian-American women. Explain the clinical, research, and policy implications of preventing childhood maltreatment and the need for developing culturally appropriate interventions for Asian-American women.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have over a year of experience as a research assistant in the field of public health, specifically studying Asian-American women's mental and sexual health. I am currently pursing a Masters in Medical Science and a Masters in Public Health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.