The distal consequences of physical and emotional neglect in emerging adults: A person-centered, multi-wave, longitudinal study

Joseph R. Cohen, Suvarna V. Menon, Ryan C. Shorey, Vi Donna Le, Jeff R. Temple

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Despite being the most prevalent form of child maltreatment, the correlates and consequences of neglect are poorly understood, particularly during early adulthood. The present multi-wave, longitudinal study sought to address this gap in this literature by examining physical and emotional neglect in emerging adults in a diverse community sample. 580 adolescents (AgeMean = 18.25; AgeSD = 0.59; 58.3% female; 31% Hispanic, 28.9% Caucasian; 26.2% African-American; 13.9% other) completed self-report measures for child maltreatment at baseline, and measures for depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and substance use every year for three years. For our analyses, we used both variable-centered (mixed-level modeling) and person-centered (latent profile analysis) analyses to best understand a) how physical and emotional neglect relate to other forms of maltreatment and b) to determine physical and emotional neglect's unique impact on prospective mental health functioning. Our person-centered analyses revealed that a three-profile model provided the best solution for our data (“No Trauma,” “Abuse”, and “Neglect”). In longitudinal analyses, the “the neglect” group had significantly elevated scores compared to the “no trauma” group on all outcomes except alcohol use (p < 0.01). Results from our variable-centered analyses showed comparable findings between physical and emotional neglect, with higher scores corresponding to elevated symptoms of depression, PTSD, illicit substance use, and cigarette use over time (p < 0.01). In conclusion, our results suggest that early neglect-exposure poses a risk for the subsequent development of internalizing symptoms and substance use behaviors among emerging adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-161
Number of pages11
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Emerging adulthood
  • Internalizing symptoms
  • Maltreatment
  • Neglect
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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