Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

Summer 7-30-2010


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Psychology, Under the Supervision of Professor William D. Spaulding. Lincoln, Nebraska: July, 2010
Copyright 2010 Kee-Hong Choi


Background: Empirical outcome studies have identified specific symptomatic, cognitive, emotional and functional sequelae of childhood abuse in people with severe mental illness (SMI). These findings illuminate the need for an integrated understanding of biological, psychological, environmental, and developmental aspects of SMI. Purpose: The purpose of the present study includes the following: 1) to examine reliability and validity of the comprehensive child abuse rating system in a sample of individuals with SMI, 2) to examine the influence of childhood abuse severity on recovery of psychotic symptoms, neurocognition and social-cognition, and social functioning in people with SMI during 12 months of inpatient psychiatric rehabilitation, and 3) to examine moderating effects of social cognition on the relationship between severity of different types of child abuse history and social functioning. Results: In Study I (N=171), the child abuse rating system produced reliable ratings and some subtypes of child abuse history were related to poorer premorbid functioning and cognition, higher overall psychiatric symptoms, and lower social functioning.

In Study II (N=161), the longitudinal factor pattern invariance of the measures of social functioning, externality, and psychiatric symptoms were confirmed across 3 time points (e.g., at admission, at 6 months, and at 12 months). In addition, significant but varied linear relationships between subtypes of child abuse and each level of assessment of functioning were identified.

In Study III (N=143), the results showed that higher baseline social inference, independent of history of child physical abuse (CPA), played a protective role in improvements in social functioning. High externality appeared to be counter-therapeutic for individuals with no history of CPA but protective for individuals with a more severe history of CPA.

Conclusion: The child abuse rating system appears to provide reliable and valid assessment of subtypes of child abuse history of individuals with SMI. Considering the extreme heterogeneity in both SMI and child maltreatment, the current finding sheds light on providing individualized treatment and assessment planning for individuals with SMI and a history of childhood abuse.