The influence of childhood maltreatment on adolescent adjustment: the mediating role of cognitive appraisals and coping strategies
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The current investigation incorporated a stress-appraisal- coping model of childhood maltreatment proposed by Spaccarelli (1994). Specifically, the study examined cognitive appraisals and coping strategies as underlying mechanisms or mediators through which childhood maltreatment affects adolescent adjustment. The MMPI-A (Butcher et al., 1992) content scales and defensiveness scale were used in an exploratory manner as measures of emotion-focused coping strategies. In the sample of 157 maltreated adolescents, no significant direct effects of maltreatment types and severity on adolescent psychopathology, suicidality, substance use, or self-injury were found. Direct paths from emotion-focused coping strategies to adolescent psychopathology and adolescent substance use were found to be significant, in which higher use of emotion-focused coping strategies led to higher rates of adolescent psychopathology and substance use. The direct effect of cognitive appraisals on adolescent psychopathology approached significance; adolescents with low self-esteem and negative appraisals of others exhibited higher rates of psychopathology. Treatment implications for promoting resilient outcomes among maltreated youth are discussed, in addition to the need to address variable outcomes within populations of maltreated youths by focusing on underlying processes to understand the impact of childhood maltreatment on adolescent adjustment.