An examination of partner violence, polyexposure, and mental health functioning in a sample of clinically referred youth.

Objective: Substantial literature has indicated that witnessing partner violence (WPV) is correlated with poor emotional, behavioral, and functional outcomes and is often associated with exposure to other potentially traumatic events. Young children are often overrepresented in the WPV group. This study fills an important gap in the literature by examining the association between WPV and other co-occurring trauma types and the association of early exposure to WPV with polyexposure, symptoms, and functional impairment. Method: Data from 8,446 youth presenting for clinical evaluation at a National Child Traumatic Stress Network Center were analyzed to examine (a) the association of WPV with polyexposure (defined as 4 or more trauma types); (b) the specific contribution of WPV in the context of polyexposure to posttraumatic stress, internalizing and externalizing symptoms, comorbid psychiatric conditions, functional impairment, and service utilization; and (c) the consequences of early exposure to WPV. Results: Youth with WPV were more likely to experience polyexposure than were youth without WPV (OR = 2.35, 95% confidence interval (CI) [2.11, 2.62]). When polyexposure was included in regression models, WPV was significantly associated with higher mean scores of functional impairment. Moreover, WPV before age 2 resulted in significantly greater risk of polyexposure than did WPV at age 7 or older (OR = 1.54, 95% CI [1.27, 1.86], for ages 7-10 and OR = 1.36, 95% CI [1.08, 1.72], for ages 11 and older). Conclusion: Early screening and intervention for WPV is needed to prevent polyexposure as well as impairments associated with both WPV and polyexposure. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)