Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences - Research Publications

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    Childhood sexual abuse and eating disorders in females: findings from the Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study
    Sanci, L ; Coffey, C ; OLSSON, CA ; Reid, S ; Carlin, JB ; Patton, GC (American Medical Association, 2008)
    Objective: To examine the relationship between childhood sexual abuse (CSA) before the age of 16 years and later onset of bulimia and anorexia nervosa symptoms in females. Design: A longitudinal cohort study of adolescents observed from August 1992 to March 2003. The cohort was defined in a 2-stage cluster sample using 44 Australian schools in Victoria. Setting: Population based. Participants: A total of 1936 persons participated at least once and survived to the age of 24 years, including 999 females. The mean (SD) age of females at the start of follow- up was 14.91 (0.39) years; and at completion, 24.03 (0.55) years. Main Exposure: Self-reported CSA before the age of 16 years was ascertained retrospectively at the age of 24 years. Outcome Measures: Incident Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition)–defined partial syndromes of anorexia and bulimia nervosa were identified between waves 4 (mean age, 16.3 years) and 6 (mean age, 17.4 years) using the Branched Eating Disorder Test. Results: The incidence of bulimic syndrome during adolescence was 2.5 (95% confidence interval, 0.80-8.0) times higher among those who reported 1 episode of CSA and 4.9 (95% confidence interval, 1.9-12.7) times higher among those who reported 2 or more episodes of CSA, compared with females reporting no episodes, adjusted for age and background factors. The association persisted after adjusting for possible confounders or mediators measured 6 months earlier, including psychiatric morbidity and dieting behavior. There was little evidence of an association between CSA and partial syndromes of incident anorexia nervosa. Conclusion: Childhood sexual abuse seems to be a risk factor for the development of bulimic syndromes, not necessarily mediated by psychiatric morbidity or severe dieting.
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    Predicting Female Depression Across Puberty: A Two-Nation Longitudinal Study
    Patton, GC ; Olsson, C ; Bond, L ; Toumbourou, JW ; Carlin, JB ; Hemphill, SA ; Catalano, RF (ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC, 2008-12-01)
    OBJECTIVE: To prospectively examine the relation between pubertal stage and the onset and course of depressive symptoms. METHOD: The design was a three-wave longitudinal study of health and social development using statewide community samples in Washington, United States, and Victoria, Australia. Approximately 5,769 students initially ages 10 to 15 years were assessed for depressive symptoms with the Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire. Pubertal status was assessed using a self-report version of the Pubertal Development Scale. RESULTS: Advancing pubertal stage carried higher risks for depressive symptoms in female subjects in all of the three study waves. The pubertal rise in female depressive symptoms was due to both higher risk for incident cases and an even greater effect on risks for persistence of depressive symptoms. Report of poor emotional control 12 months earlier carried a twofold higher risk for incident depressive symptoms and largely explained the pubertal rise in female incident cases. High family conflict and severity of bullying also predicted persistence of depressive symptoms. Preexisting depressive symptoms were not associated with later increases in the rate of pubertal transition. CONCLUSIONS: Advancing pubertal stage carries risks for both the onset and persistence of depressive symptoms in females. Social adversity around puberty predicts the persistence of symptoms but does not account for a pubertal rise in female depression. A report of poor emotional control may be a useful marker of girls at risk for depressive symptoms and as a target for preventive intervention.