2020-05-11Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/21477
Life within a limited radius: Investigating activity space in women with a history of child abuse using global positioning system tracking
Early experiences of childhood sexual or physical abuse are often associated with functional impairments, reduced well-being and interpersonal problems in adulthood. Prior studies have addressed whether the traumatic experience itself or adult psychopathology is linked to these limitations. To approach this question, individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and healthy individuals with and without a history of child abuse were investigated. We used global positioning system (GPS) tracking to study temporal and spatial limitations in the participants’ real-life activity space over the course of one week. The sample consisted of 228 female participants: 150 women with PTSD and emotional instability with a history of child abuse, 35 mentally healthy women with a history of child abuse (healthy trauma controls, HTC) and 43 mentally healthy women without any traumatic experiences in their past (healthy controls, HC). Both traumatized groups—i.e. the PTSD and the HTC group—had smaller movement radii than the HC group on the weekends, but neither spent significantly less time away from home than HC. Some differences between PTSD and HC in movement radius seem to be related to correlates of PTSD psychopathology, like depression and physical health. Yet group differences between HTC and HC in movement radius remained even when contextual and individual health variables were included in the model, indicating specific effects of traumatic experiences on activity space. Experiences of child abuse could limit activity space later in life, regardless of whether PTSD develops.
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This article was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Open Access Publication Fund of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.