Relationship between childhood adversity and clinical and cognitive features in schizophrenia

Kathryn L. McCabe, Elizabeth A. Maloney, Helen J. Stain, Carmel M. Loughland, Vaughan J. Carr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Childhood adversity is associated with elevated risk for a wide range of adult psychiatric disorders, and has significant and sustained negative effects on adult behavioural and social functioning. Elevated rates of childhood adversity have been reported for people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. The aim of the present study was to assess rates of retrospectively reported childhood adversity among adults with schizophrenia and to examine the relationship between childhood adversity and clinical and cognitive features. Data were available for 408 schizophrenia participants and 267 healthy control participants recruited through the Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank (ASRB). History of childhood adversity was obtained using the Childhood Adversity Questionnaire (CAQ). A five-factor solution was identified from the CAQ. Schizophrenia participants reported experiencing more childhood adversities than controls. In both groups, those reporting childhood adversity were more likely to be female and older. Among participants with schizophrenia, positive symptom severity and fewer years of education were associated with childhood adversity. Lower IQ scores and personality traits were associated with reporting a greater number of childhood adversities and with adversity sub-types of abusive, neglectful and dysfunctional parenting. The rate of childhood adversity reported in this sample was high which suggests greater exposure to adverse childhood events among participants with schizophrenia in comparison with healthy controls. We identified unique groups amongst CAQ items that provided a salient framework from which to investigate the connection between childhood adversity and clinical and cognitive features.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)600-607
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood adversity
  • Neurocognition
  • Personality
  • Schizophrenia


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