Childhood Trauma is Associated with Cognitive Functioning in Adult Affectively Stable Patients with Bipolar Disorder

Principal Investigator: Katherine Burdick

Authors: Julia R Potter, Caitlin E Millet, Katherine E Burdick
Lay Abstract

Aims: The goal of this study was to assess whether a history of childhood trauma predicts cognitive functioning in adult patients with bipolar disorder (BD).

Methods: 40 affectively stable bipolar patients between the ages of 18 to 75 completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) and MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB). We performed bivariate Pearson’s correlations, analysis of variance, and multiple linear regression analyses.

Results: Childhood emotional abuse (EA), physical abuse (PA), and sexual abuse (SA) are moderately inversely correlated with several domains of cognitive functioning in patients with bipolar disorder. A history of severe SA and EA were significant predictors of impairement in several domains when controlling for age, sex, and years of education.

Conclusion: Poor performance in certain domains of cognitive functioning during adulthood is associated with a history of childhood EA and SA. Limitations include the relatively small sample size, as this is an ongoing data collection as well as the lack of racial diversity in the sample. These findings are consistent with prior work from our group in much larger cohorts that point toward the importance of assessing trauma history and considering therapeutic options to address the consequences of childhood maltreatment in patients with BD.

Scientific Abstract

Aims: The goal of this study was to assess whether a history of childhood trauma predicts cognitive functioning in adult patients with bipolar disorder (BD).

Methods: 40 affectively stable bipolar patients between the ages of 18 to 75 completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) and MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB). We performed bivariate Pearson’s correlations, analysis of variance, and multiple linear regression analyses.

Results: Childhood emotional abuse (EA), physical abuse (PA), and sexual abuse (SA) are moderately inversely correlated with several domains of cognitive functioning in patients with bipolar disorder. A history of severe SA and EA were significant predictors of impairement in several domains when controlling for age, sex, and years of education.

Conclusion: Poor performance in certain domains of cognitive functioning during adulthood is associated with a history of childhood EA and SA. Limitations include the relatively small sample size, as this is an ongoing data collection as well as the lack of racial diversity in the sample. These findings are consistent with prior work from our group in much larger cohorts that point toward the importance of assessing trauma history and considering therapeutic options to address the consequences of childhood maltreatment in patients with BD.

Clinical Implications
Poor cognitive functioning during adulthood is associated with a history of childhood emotional and sexual abuse. These findings point toward the importance of assessing trauma history and considering therapeutic options to address the consequences of childhood maltreatment in bipolar disorder.

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