Date of Conferral





Public Health


Dr. Nicoletta Alexander


Metabolic syndrome and its component conditions of hypertension, obesity, and insulin resistance are on the increase in United States. Metabolic syndrome substantially increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes (T2D). To date, no published study has examined the relationship between psychological traumas from physical and/or sexual assault in childhood and metabolic syndrome or its components. This study, using the psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) model, investigated associations between psychological trauma (physical/sexual abuse) in childhood and metabolic syndrome in adulthood using data from the Midlife in the United States II (MIDUS-II) study. This research was undertaken to investigate whether a history of psychological trauma was associated with an elevated risk for metabolic syndrome. Chi-square test and logistic regression were used to investigate the respective associations. Metabolic syndrome was the dependent variable, assault in childhood was the independent variable, and the relevant covariates included in the logistic regression model were age, gender, cigarette and alcohol consumption, and ethnicity. While there was no significant association between assault in childhood and metabolic syndrome (p = 0.146), there were significant associations between metabolic syndrome and age group (p =< 0.026). In the adjusted logistic regression model, the only covariate that showed significant association with metabolic syndrome was Age Group 2 (41-55; p = 0.016). Also significant was the association between sexual assault in childhood and high blood pressure (p = 0.041). The results of this study suggest that clinicians may wish to watch for evidence of abuse, given the potential for future health impacts.