Exposure to family violence and temperament factors as predictors of adult psychopathology and substance use outcomes

Karen F. Trocki, Raul Caetano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This study examines the potential for a negative psychological impact as a result of childhood exposure to family violence. Psychopathological outcomes in adulthood, such as alcohol problems and depression, are examined in light of reports of childhood physical abuse and exposure to parental violence. A national household probability sample of over 3,000 respondents were asked whether they had, as children, observed violence or threats of violence between their parents or whether they had directly experienced violence from one or both parents. Observed threats of violence was the most potent predictor of depression and current heavy drinking in women. Among men, observed threats of violence predicted current heavy drinking, and alcohol dependence symptoms; personal experience of violence predicted depression. Impulsivity was a main effect predictor of virtually all outcome variables for men and women, but typically did not interact with experience or observation of violence. Findings suggest that individuals who remember childhood experiences of indirect violence from parental conflicts have higher rates of pathological adult outcomes. Impulsivity and sensation seeking are highly related to these outcomes over and above violence history. Family conflict variables and temperament variables are highly correlated with one another but make independent contributions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-192
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Addictions Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2003


  • Alcohol Dependence
  • Depression
  • Family Violence
  • Impulsivity
  • Sensation-seeking
  • Substance Abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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