China has a significant number of left-behind families. This study focuses on the long-term effects of childhood left-behind experience on different type of childhood trauma and mental health outcomes in later life development.
participants were 67 795 Chinese young adults. Psychosocial characteristics were screened by sleep quality, the nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire for depressive symptoms, the generalized anxiety disorder-7 for anxiety symptoms, trauma screening questionnaire for post-traumatic stress, a short form of the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire for childhood trauma. Propensity score matching (PSM) and multivariate linear regression were applied to analyze the data.
the results of the post-PSM analysis showed that the distributions of propensity scores for the two groups were approximately equal. And the total sample size in post-analysis dropped to 2358 (Nnuclear family = 1179, Nleft-behind family = 1179), with unmatched cases excluded. Post-matching results showed that the students from left-behind family were significantly associated with severer post-traumatic stress (b = 0.39, 95% CI = [0.15, 0.62]), loneliness (b = 0.29, 95% CI = [0.16, 0.42]), depressive symptoms (b = 0.44, 95% CI = [0.06, 0.82]) and CTQ-physical neglect (b = 0.34, 95% CI = [0.11, 0.58]).
our study showed that childhood left-behind experiences are tightly related to childhood trauma experience and mental health issues (post-traumatic stress, loneliness and depression) in late adolescents.