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An Investigation of the Impact of Childhood Trauma on Quality of Caregiving in High Risk Mothers: Does Maternal Substance Misuse Confer Additional Risk?

School of Psychology. Hatzis, Denise.; Dawe, Sharon.; Harnett, Paul.; Loxton, Natalie – 2019

The quality of caregiving is often compromised when mothers have co-occurring difficulties such as substance misuse and problems associated with extreme emotional dysregulation. These, in turn, are associated with poor child outcomes. The aim of the current study was twofold. First, to investigate the potential differences in risk factors associated with poor child outcome by comparing three groups: substance misusing mothers (Substance Misusing Mothers; SMM); mothers matched on demographic characteristics (Matched Comparison Mothers; MCM) and mothers recruited from the community (Matched Control Comparison; MCC). Second, to investigate the underlying mechanisms which are associated with poor child outcome by testing a mediated moderation model to ascertain (i) whether environmental risk and borderline psychopathology was a mediator between maternal childhood trauma and quality of caregiving and (ii) maternal substance misuse status moderated outcome. There were no significant differences found between the SMM and MCM groups on the key variables, but significant differences on all variables for both SMM and MCM compared to CCM. The moderated mediation analysis found that while there was significant mediation of environmental risk and borderline pathology between maternal childhood trauma and child outcome, this was not moderated by maternal substance abuse status. The importance of environmental-risk as a mechanism leading to reduced caregiving quality suggest treatment programs need to consider targeting these factors in high risk families.