Early childhood adversity and later hypertension: Data from the World Mental Health Survey

Dan J. Stein, Kate Scott, Josep M Haro Abad, Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, Jordi Alonso, Matthias Angermeyer, Koen Demytteneare, Giovanni De Girolamo, Noboru Iwata, José Posada-Villa, Viviane Kovess, Carmen Lara, Johan Ormel, Ronald C. Kessler, Michael Von Korff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Although many studies have indicated that psychosocial factors contribute to hypertension, and that early childhood adversity is associated with long-term adverse mental and physical health sequelae, the association between early adversity and later hypertension is not well studied. METHOD: Data from 10 countries participating in the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health (WHM) Surveys (N = 18,630) were analyzed to assess the relationship between childhood adversity and adult-onset hypertension, as ascertained by self-report. The potentially mediating effect of early-onset depression-anxiety disorders, as assessed by the WHM Survey version of the International Diagnostic Interview (WMH-CIDI), on the relationship between early adversity and hypertension was also examined. RESULTS: Two or more early childhood adversities, as well as early-onset depression-anxiety, were significantly associated with hypertension. A range of specific childhood adversities, as well as early-onset social phobia and panic/agoraphobia, were significantly associated with hypertension. In multivariate analyses, the presence of 3 or more childhood adversities was associated with hypertension, even when early-onset depression-anxiety or current depression-anxiety was included in the model. CONCLUSIONS: Although caution is required in the interpretation of self-report data on adult-onset hypertension, the results of this study further strengthen the evidence base regarding the role of psychosocial factors in the pathogenesis of hypertension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-28
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Clinical Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Medicine(all)


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