Credentials of Corresponding Author
PhD, RN, APRN, FAHA, FAAN
The purpose of this study was to examine the associations among childhood adversity, psychological distress, and inflammation in women veterans.
Background and significance
Childhood adversity has been demonstrated to be associated with greater psychological distress (e.g., depressive symptoms, anxiety) but also contribute to inflammation that can lead to a greater risk for inflammatory-related diseases, such as cardiovascular disease (CVD). Despite this evidence, little is known about the relationship among childhood adversity, psychological distress, and markers of inflammation in women veterans.
McEwen’s Allostatic Load Theory, which posits that repeated stress produces “wear and tear” on the body, was used to guide the study.
A cross sectional sample of women veterans (N=136) (mean age=50.65 SD=10.55) with risk factors for CVD participated in the study. Participants completed written measures to assess childhood adversity (Childhood Trauma questionnaire), depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiologic Studies, and anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory). Morning blood samples were collected to measure levels of inflammatory markers, interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) production.
Linear regression modeling revealed that greater exposure to childhood adversity was a significant predictor of more depressive symptoms (β = 0.295, p< .01), and greater anxiety (β = 0.304, p
Results demonstrate that greater levels of early life adversity predict higher depressive symptoms and anxiety. Furthermore, higher levels of adversity are associated with production of markers of inflammation (IL-6 and INF-γ). Although more research needs to be done, our findings suggest that women veterans exposed to childhood adversity may be at greater risk for inflammatory-related disease.
Association of Childhood Adversity, Psychological Distress, and Inflammatory Markers in Women Veterans