Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

April 2005


Published in Schizophrenia Research 76 (2005), pp. 273–286. Copyright © 2005 Elsevier B.V. Available online at Used by permission.


A number of studies have demonstrated an increased rate of histories of childhood maltreatment among adults with serious mental illness. The present investigation documented the presence of childhood maltreatment in a sample of 40 psychiatric inpatients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders. The type (neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse), duration, and severity of childhood maltreatment was examined along with measures of premorbid functioning, current symptomatology, and cognitive functioning. Participants with histories of maltreatment were significantly more likely to have poorer peer relationships in childhood, more diffi culty in school, an earlier age at first hospitalization, more previous hospitalizations, elevated symptoms of anxiety, depression, and suicidality on the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), and more impaired performance on a task of visual-perceptual organization. Severity and frequency of childhood maltreatment were both positively correlated with hallucinations and delusions on the BPRS. Linear trend analysis indicated a pattern of more severe impairment as the number of types of maltreatment increased. No relationships were found between maltreatment and measures of executive functioning, verbal fl uency, or verbal processing speed. A history of childhood maltreatment appears to be a signifi cant determinant of premorbid functioning, illness-related symptom expression, and specific forms of cognitive dysfunction.