Association between Childhood Maltreatment and Depressive and Anxiety Symptoms among Men Who Have Sex With Men in Los Angeles


The last paper from my dissertation Adverse Childhood Experiences and Mental Health Over the Life Course Among Men Who Have Sex with Men in Los Angeles County has been published. I am very pleased to have my work featured in the Journal of Urban Health. I’m so grateful for my mentors and collaborators.



Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have been associated with poor mental health outcomes in adulthood. Childhood maltreatment is related to both depressive and anxiety symptoms. Our objective was to investigate these associations among low-income mostly Black and Latino men who have sex with men (MSM) as these may be a particularly vulnerable population group. Data come from a longitudinal study of MSM with varied substance use behaviors (n=321) collected between August 2014 and April 2022. Cumulative, childhood maltreatment ACEs, and the single ACE of childhood sexual abuse were investigated as potential predictors of self-reported depressive and anxiety symptoms in mixed-effects logistic and ordinal regression models. There was no evidence of a dose-response relationship between the number of ACEs and the predicted probability of depressive and anxiety symptoms. Compared to MSM reporting fewer than five ACEs, those with five or more ACEs had approximately double the odds ratio of reporting depressive (OR=1.93; 95% CI: 1.04-3.60) and anxiety symptoms (OR=2.21; 95% CI: 1.05-4.68). The dimension of childhood maltreatment had a stronger prediction of depressive symptoms than the dimension of household dysfunction across all models. The association between childhood sexual abuse history and depressive symptoms remained after adjustment for the other nine ACEs (OR=2.27; 95% CI: 1.11-4.68). The ordinal logistic model suggested that cumulative ACEs more than triple the odds of being in a higher anxiety category (OR=3.12; 95% CI: 1.58-6.14), with associations reported for childhood maltreatment ACEs (OR=1.31; 95% CI: 1.06-1.66) and childhood sexual abuse (OR=1.93; 95% CI: 0.89-4.21). Childhood maltreatment ACEs, particularly childhood sexual abuse, are salient predictors of depressive and anxiety symptoms among adult urban MSM. Mitigating the impact of childhood maltreatment requires an understanding of the additional burden of social distress often faced by MSM throughout the life course.


Dr. David Wiss became a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) in 2013 and founded Nutrition in Recovery, a group practice of RDNs specializing in treating eating and substance use disorders. In 2017, David received the “Excellence in Practice” award at the National Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. The California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics awarded him the “Emerging Dietetic Leader Award” in 2020. He earned his Ph.D. from UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health in the Community Health Sciences department (with a minor in Health Psychology) by investigating the links between adverse childhood experiences and various mental health outcomes among socially disadvantaged men. His treatment philosophy is based on a biopsychosocial model which incorporates an understanding of biological mechanisms, psychological underpinnings, and contextual factors that integrate the social determinants of health. Wise Mind Nutrition is an app-based interactive treatment program available for download now -

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