Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award

Fall 12-7-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Laura Salazar

Second Advisor

Dr. Shanta R. Dube


Child maltreatment is common in the United States and can cause severe physical and mental illness well into young adulthood. Some studies have shown that child maltreatment may increase impulsivity and emotional adjustment among adolescents but there has been little focus on these factors among college students. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between child maltreatment (physical and sexual abuse and witnessing domestic abuse) on impulsivity and emotional adjustment. Additionally, this study assessed whether impulsivity or emotional adjustment mediate the relationship between child maltreatment and substance use and binge drinking. This study analyzed secondary data from a diverse group of male college freshmen from 30 colleges and Universities in Georgia (51% White, 19% Black/African American). Univariate analyses using SAS 9.4 found that of the 1,129 participants between the ages of 18 and 24, 15% were exposed to at least one form of child maltreatment, 4% were exposed to two forms, and 0.4% had been exposed to all three forms of maltreatment. Among participants, 11% experienced severe physical abuse, 3% experienced severe sexual abuse, and 13% witnessed domestic abuse as a child. Severe child maltreatment was positively correlated with impulsivity, substance use, and binge drinking, and it was negatively correlated with emotional adjustment. Substance use and binge drinking were independently positively associated with impulsivity and negatively associated with emotional adjustment. Four mediation models were analyzed using Hayes PROCESS macro in SAS 9.4. The study found that impulsivity and emotional adjustment were independent partial mediators between severe child maltreatment and substance use and severe child maltreatment and binge drinking while controlling for sociodemographic factors.

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