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Browsing by Author "Aaltonen, Mira"

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  • Aaltonen, Mira (2019)
    Aims of the study. Living in an unhappy romantic relationship correlates with poor mental and physical health. Therefore, it is important to clarify developmental factors contributing to romantic relationship quality. Child emotional and physical maltreatment correlate with insecure romantic attachment style, a measurement of romantic relationship quality. However, there is insufficient research involving large normal population samples and older adults. Childhood maltreatment is a risk factor for depressive symptoms, and depression coincides with poor romantic relationship quality. The purpose of this study is to examine if people who have experienced emotional and physical maltreatment in childhood exhibit a more insecure romantic attachment style. In addition, we seek to find out whether depressive symptoms mediate the relationship between childhood maltreatment and romantic attachment style in adulthood. Methods. This cross-sectional study included 1326 participants (55 % female, average age 63) who were part of the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study. Childhood maltreatment experiences were acquired retrospectively with Traumatic Experiences Checklist and depressive symptoms with Beck Depression Inventory – The second edition. Romantic relationship quality was measured with Experiences in Close Relationships – Revised, consisting of two romantic attachment style dimensions, anxiousness and avoidance. Hypotheses were tested with linear regression and bootstrapping mediation analysis was used to examine indirect effects. Results and conclusions. This is the first study to examine the correlation between childhood maltreatment and romantic attachment style in a large representative Finnish older adult sample. The results mainly confirm what has been found earlier using younger adult samples. People who experienced physical or emotional maltreatment in childhood had more romantic attachment anxiety in late adulthood. People who experienced emotional maltreatment in childhood also had more romantic attachment avoidance, but the correlation was not significant when demographic variables were controlled for. Childhood physical maltreatment did not correlate with romantic attachment avoidance. In addition, the results of this correlational study suggest that depression is a possible mediator between childhood maltreatment and insecure romantic attachment style, although this still needs further verification through longitudinal studies in the future. These results underscore the need to find more effective preventions and interventions for childhood maltreatment, and to also factor in maltreatment history in older adults’ couples counselling.