Adolescent maladaptive schemas and childhood abuse and neglect: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Tamara May, Rita Younan, Pamela D. Pilkington

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This study aimed to review evidence on the associations between childhood emotional, physical and sexual abuse; neglect and bullying and early maladaptive schemas, as measured in adolescence. PubMed, PsycInfo and CINAHL were searched to identify peer-reviewed studies reporting original quantitative data on the association between early maladaptive schemas or schema domains (e.g., Disconnection and Rejection) and childhood emotional, physical and sexual abuse; neglect and bullying, measured in individuals aged up to 18 years. Meta-analyses were conducted to estimate the magnitude of the associations between schemas and childhood experiences. Twelve studies were included: Seven explored schemas, and five examined schema domains. Most studies had somewhat representative samples that were adequate in size, and all used validated measures of schemas or schema domains. Three studies explored emotional neglect, two each for emotional abuse, physical abuse and peer problems, one explored family violence and one adolescent stressors. Meta-analyses indicated small to medium pooled associations between emotional abuse and Emotional Deprivation, r =.33 (95% CI [.19,.46]) and Subjugation, r =.32 (95% CI [.14,.47]) and emotional neglect and Mistrust Abuse, r =.41 (95% CI [.32,.49]), Abandonment, r =.25 (95% CI [.22,.28]), Social Isolation r =.23 (95% CI [.10,.35]) and Failure, r =.35 (95% CI [.26,.44]). Associations between childhood abuse and neglect experiences and schemas were evident in adolescents. There were limited data on some adverse experiences including sexual abuse and neglect. The evidence thus far suggests that maladaptive schemas are related to experiences of childhood emotional abuse and neglect and are evident before adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1159-1171
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Psychology & Psychotherapy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

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