Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Susan Rattan

Abstract

Previous research has shown that child maltreatment can negatively impact brain development and neurocognitive systems for children, adolescents, and adults. However there are no published studies that have sought to understand the role of child maltreatment with psychiatrically hospitalized children. Psychiatrically hospitalized children are considered a high-risk population due to increased suicidality, internalizing disorders, and lower cognitive functioning. The current study examined a hierarchical and cumulative model of maltreatment with inpatient children (ages 6-14 years old) who had been maltreated (n=111) to understand its impact on executive functioning skills, compared with a psychiatric outpatient sample (n=166). Results using a hierarchical and cumulative model of maltreatment revealed that significant differences existed between the outpatient sample and children who had been maltreated on combined measures of general executive functioning, even after controlling for FSIQ. Group differences between the outpatient and inpatient samples were found for those who had been sexually and physically abused, but not neglected on general executive functioning skills using a hierarchical model of maltreatment. The cumulative model revealed significant differences between the control group and those who had been exposed to three and four types of maltreatment. Distinct neuropsychological profiles were related to the type of maltreatment and the number of maltreatment types the child had been exposed. Children who had been maltreated with PTSD significantly differed in their general executive functioning skills compared to the control group, however this difference no longer existed after controlling for FSIQ. Group differences were not found for those who had been maltreated with or without PTSD. These findings extend previous research conducted with maltreated adolescents in an inpatient psychiatric setting, suggesting the type of maltreatment and number of maltreatment exposures, significantly impact different skills associated with executive functioning.

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