Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Scopus Web of Science® Altmetric
Type: Journal article
Title: Bullying and sexual abuse and their association with harmful behaviours, antidepressant use and health-related quality of life in adulthood: a population-based study in South Australia
Author: González-Chica, D.A.
Licinio, J.
Musker, M.
Wong, M.
Bowden, J.
Hay, P.
Chittleborough, C.
Stocks, N.
Citation: BMC Public Health, 2019; 19(1):26-1-26-12
Publisher: BMC
Issue Date: 2019
ISSN: 1471-2458
Statement of
David Alejandro González-Chica, Julio Licinio, Michael Musker, Mali Wong, Jacqueline Bowden, Phillipa Hay, Catherine Chittleborough and Nigel Stocks
Abstract: BACKGROUND:Few representative sample studies have reported estimates of bullying and sexual abuse in Australia. By using face-to-face interviews and self-labelling questions, we investigated the prevalence of these forms of abuse and their relationship with current harmful behaviours (smoking dependence, excessive alcohol intake, binge eating), antidepressant use, and the physical (PCS) and mental (MCS) components of health-related quality of life. METHODS:This study was a population-based survey that investigated 2873 South Australians in 2015 (48.8 ± 18.1 years; 49.3% males). Bullying and sexual abuse (age of onset and duration) and their outcomes were investigated through household interviews. Associations were adjusted for sociodemographic variables by using regression models. RESULTS:45.6% (95% CI 43.3-47.9) of the participants were bullied, and 10.4% (95% CI 9.1-11.9) sexually abused; 7.3% (95% CI 6.2-8.5) reported experiencing both forms of abuse. Moreover, 15.8% of those bullied and 15.0% of those sexually abused suffered from these forms of abuse for > 24 months. Smoking dependence (7.8%) was twice as frequent among those who experienced bullying for > 24 months or when sexual abuse occurred in childhood (< 10 years) or adulthood (20+ years) or lasted ≥1 month. Excessive alcohol intake (14.3%) was more frequent when bullying occurred in childhood or lasted > 24 months. Binge eating (8.1%) was more frequent among those bullied or sexually abused in adulthood, but duration did not show a clear pattern. Antidepressant use was up to four times more likely, and PCS or MCS lower among those who were bullied or sexually abused, independent of when these forms of abuse started or their duration. The cumulative adverse relationship of bullying and sexual abuse with the investigated outcomes was more evident for smoking dependence, binge eating, PCS, and MCS than for antidepressant use, but no association was observed with alcohol intake. CONCLUSIONS:The use of self-labelling questions to investigate sensitive areas such as bullying and sexual abuse in a survey is feasible. Such questions provided estimates that are consistent with findings from studies using more detailed instruments. Bullying and sexual abuse have an additive adverse association with various outcomes. Identifying survivors of both forms of abuse is important to avoid more serious consequences.
Keywords: Behavioural symptoms
Child abuse
Mental health
Quality of life
Rights: © The Author(s). 2019 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
DOI: 10.1186/s12889-018-6367-8
Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 8
Public Health publications

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
hdl_117926.pdfPublished version1.08 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in DSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.