Child maltreatment has well-documented long-term, adverse effects on mental health, but it is not clear whether there are gender differences in these effects. We conducted a systematic review to investigate whether there are gender differences in the effects of maltreatment on adult depression and anxiety. Medline, PsycINFO, Web of Science, and Lilacs were searched for relevant studies published up to May 2016. Eligible studies included population-based studies (with a cohort, case-control or cross-sectional design) which assessed maltreatment during childhood or adolescence (≤18 years) and its association with major depression or generalized anxiety disorder (DSM/ICD diagnostic criteria) in adulthood (>18 years) separately for females and males. Meta-analysis was performed to estimate the association between each exposure and outcome using fixed and random effects models. Pooled odds ratios (OR) were estimated separately for women and men and compared. Five studies of physical and sexual abuse were included in the meta-analyses. These provided twenty-two effects sizes estimates (11 for men, 11 for women) for associations between physical/sexual abuse and depression/anxiety. Exposure to each kind of abuse increased the odds of depression/anxiety. Associations were larger for women than for men, however, these gender differences were not statistically significant. Physical and sexual abuse in childhood/adolescence are risk factors for depression/anxiety in adulthood and the effect could be larger for women; however, currently there is insufficient evidence to definitively identify gender differences in the effects of maltreatment.
- Childhood maltreatment