MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Tracie O. Afifi, PhD
Associate Professor of Epidemiology
CIHR New Investigator (2013-2018)
Departments of Community Health Sciences and Psychiatry
College of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Manitoba
Medical Research: What is the background for this study?
Dr. Afifi: Recent studies in the US have examined predictors and correlates of suicide among solider, but none of these studies have investigated the potential role that child abuse exposure may play in suicide-related outcomes. In addition no representative military and civilian comparisons from any country have examined possible differences in the prevalence of child abuse exposure and the potential differences in the relationships between child abuse exposure and suicide-related outcomes in these populations. This study uses nationally representative military and civilian samples from Canada.
Medical Research: What are the main findings?
Dr. Afifi: Child abuse was more prevalent among Regular Forces personnel (47.7%) and Reserve Forces personnel (49.4%) compared to the Canadian general population (33.1%).
Child abuse exposure was associated with an increased likelihood of suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts in military and civilian populations, with associations weaker for many outcomes in military personnel relative to civilians.
Deployment-related trauma was associated with past-year suicidal thoughts and suicide plans. However, relative to deployment-related trauma, child abuse exposure had a more robust association with suicide-related outcomes.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Afifi: Prevention and intervention efforts targeting child abuse may reduce suicide-related outcomes.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Afifi: Individuals with a history of child abuse exposure may be more likely to enter the military. We don’t know why this is the case and could be examined in future research. More research is necessary to find effective ways to prevent child abuse.
Medical Research: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Dr. Afifi: Suicide and child abuse are both in an important public health problem in military and civilian populations. Prevention efforts are needed to prevent child abuse and suicide in both populations.
Tracie O. Afifi, PhD (2016). Individuals With History of Child Abuse May Be More Likely To Enter Military