Sex differences in experiences of multiple traumas and mental health problems in the UK Biobank cohort

Emma Yapp, Tom Booth, Katrina Davis, Jonathan Coleman, Louise M. Howard, Gerome Breen, Stephani L. Hatch, Matthew Hotopf, Siân Oram*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose
Experiences of reported trauma are common and are associated with a range of mental health problems. Sex differences in how reported traumas are experienced over the life course in relation to mental health require further exploration.

Methods
157,358 participants contributed data for the UK Biobank Mental Health Questionnaire (MHQ). Stratified Latent Class Analysis (LCA) was used to analyse combinations of reported traumatic experiences in males and females separately, and associations with mental health.

Results
In females, five trauma classes were identified: a low-risk class (58.6%), a childhood trauma class (13.5%), an intimate partner violence class (12.9%), a sexual violence class (9.1%), and a high-risk class (5.9%). In males, a three-class solution was preferred: a low-risk class (72.6%), a physical and emotional trauma class (21.9%), and a sexual violence class (5.5%). In comparison to the low-risk class in each sex, all trauma classes were associated with increased odds of current depression, anxiety, and hazardous/harmful alcohol use after adjustment for covariates. The high-risk class in females and the sexual violence class in males produced significantly increased odds for recent psychotic experiences.

Conclusion
There are sex differences in how reported traumatic experiences co-occur across a lifespan, with females at the greatest risk. However, reporting either sexual violence or multiple types of trauma was associated with increased odds of mental health problems for both males and females. Findings emphasise the public mental health importance of identifying and responding to both men and women’s experiences of trauma, including sexual violence.c
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology
Early online date10 May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 May 2021

Keywords

  • gender-based violence
  • mental health
  • violence
  • women’s health

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