Abstract| Volume 14, ISSUE 4, SUPPLEMENT , S17, April 2013

Relationship between previous experiences with abuse and the likelihood of doctor’s visit after a medical injury or illness

      There is growing evidence that psychological and social factors can predict medical outcomes. Maltreatment and abuse have been strongly associated with later mental and physical health problems. In particular, early trauma events have been associated with higher pain, depression and somatization levels as well as unexplained medical illnesses. The purpose of the current study was to determine the relationship between individual’s history of abuse with behaviors related to medical treatment (i.e. visit a physician/doctor after an injury).The current study consisted of 542 college students from a Southwestern University. History of medical injury/illness, doctor visit(s) after the injury/illness, and the Sexual-Physical Abuse History Questionnaire (SPAH) were inquired via an online survey. Preliminary results demonstrated that 28% of the students reported self experience or witness a sexual, assault outside a home, physical or psychological abuse. A linear regression analysis was conducted to determine if self experience or witnessing an abuse predicted whether individuals visit a doctor after a medical injury or illness. Results indicated that abuse predicted a significant 10% percent of the variance (p<.001). In addition, sexual abuse and assault outside the home showed a positive significant statistical correlation with doctor’s visit related to medical illness that are often not common in a college student population: fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel, arthritis, complex regional pain syndrome, and migraines. The results of this study support previous investigations, which state that the experience of abuse may exacerbate behaviors often related to unexplained medical illnesses. The results of this study stress the importance of evaluating psychosocial factors in medical practices.