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The experience of abuse and mental health in the young Thai population

A preliminary survey



The aims of this study were to examine the prevalence of child abuse exposure among Thai people in a suburban community and to describe the association of abuse experiences with common mental disorders (CMD), alcohol use disorders and substance use.


A population-based cross-sectional survey was conducted in Northern Bangkok on a representative sample of 202 young residents, aged 16–25 years.


Thirty eight percent of the respondents reported experiencing some form of abuse during childhood, with 5.8% having been subjected to sexual penetration, 11.7% having been physically abused and 31.8% emotionally abused. A graded relationship was found between the extent of exposure to abuse during childhood and mental problems. After controlling for potential confounders, CMD remained significantly associated with emotional abuse, and alcohol use disorders remained associated with sexual abuse. Strong but non-significant trends were present for associations between CMD and sexual abuse and all forms of abuse with substance use.


Child abuse experiences were common among the respondents. Childhood abuse, particularly sexual abuse, has a potentially devastating impact on adult mental health.

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This research was conducted when the first author was affiliated with the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, UK. The study was funded by a grant allocated from the Thai Government through Thammasat University, Pathumthani, Thailand. TJ is funded by the Wellcome Trust Health Consequences of Population Change Programme with a postdoctoral fellowship.

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Correspondence to Tawanchai Jirapramukpitak.

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Jirapramukpitak, T., Prince, M. & Harpham, T. The experience of abuse and mental health in the young Thai population. Soc Psychiat Epidemiol 40, 955–963 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-005-0983-1

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Key words

  • child abuses
  • neurotic disorders
  • substance abuses
  • alcohol-related disorders
  • cross-sectional survey
  • Thailand
  • mental health
  • prevalence