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Identifying potential mechanisms between childhood trauma and the psychological response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany: a longitudinal study

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Rek,  Stephanie V.
IMPRS Translational Psychiatry, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Rek, S. V., Reinhard, M. A., Buehner, M., Freeman, D., Adorjan, K., Falkai, P., et al. (2022). Identifying potential mechanisms between childhood trauma and the psychological response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany: a longitudinal study. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 12(1): 12964. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-13205-1.


Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-FD11-6
Abstract
Childhood maltreatment (CM) has been associated with adverse psychosocial outcomes during the pandemic, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. In a prospective online study using baseline and 10-week follow-up data of 391 German participants, we applied multiple mediation analyses to test to what extent COVID-19 perceived stressors mediate the association between CM and later adverse psychosocial outcomes compared to established mediators of rumination and insecure attachment. We also explored the relative importance of different COVID-19 related stressors in predicting adverse psychological trajectories using elastic net regression. Results showed that CM was longitudinally associated with all adverse psychosocial outcome. COVID-19 perceived stressors, rumination, and insecure attachment mediated this relationship and full mediation was observed for the outcomes anxiety, stress and psychological well-being. COVID-19-related concerns about the future was most strongly and consistently associated with adverse psychosocial functioning. These findings provide preliminary evidence that COVID-19 perceived stressors, in particular concerns about the future, may be a key mechanism underlying the development of adverse psychosocial outcomes in individuals with a CM history. Thus, COVID-19 perceived stressors may require a higher priority for prevention and treatment efforts in vulnerable groups. Our results warrant replication in more representative cross-cultural samples.