Dr. David McCollum was for years an emergency room physician and is one of the co-founders of the Academy on Violence & Abuse, an organization aimed at health professionals. It provides education and research on the effects of violence and abuse on people’s health.
Early on in his work, McCollum became aware of the connection between childhood trauma and health problems. He integrated his awareness into his emergency room practice by asking questions when he thought patients’ health problems might be related to events that had happened in their past. I’ll post some of those stories later. The outcomes were very surprising, including a woman who came to the ER with chronic pelvic pain. After she answered “All three” when McCollum asked her if she’d been verbally, physically or sexually abused, and a discussion ensued at how it could affect her current health, her pain dissipated.
After a while, McCollum began probing the medical literature for research about the link. He found so much information that he used a mind-mapping program to organize it. He put together COLEVA — Consequences of Lifetime Exposure to Violence and Abuse. It’s an interactive map that depicts how childhood trauma affects every system in our body. This map has much more impact than a list of research publications. You’ll have to go to the site to explore the map — I couldn’t embed it in this post.
COLEVA was something McCollum did in his spare time, and he ran out of spare time in February 2011, its last update. As demonstrated in a previous post, the research continues to grow and expand. And here are two more recent studies:
Neglect impairs brain development — This very good story by LATimes reporter John Bardin covers recent research that is another in a series by the Bucharest Early Intervention Project, which has followed 136 Romanian orphans since 2000, when they were infants. Some are in orphanages, others with families. Using MRI scans, the researchers found that the brains of the institutionalized children had less white matter, the brain tissue that connects parts of the brain. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Child abuse linked to higher odds for cancer as an adult— Confirming findings from the CDC’s ACE Study, researchers at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. used data from more than 2,100 U.S. adults who took part in the National Survey of Midlife Development, according to the story on HealthDay.com. The study was published in the Journal of Aging and Health.
When McCollum and I chatted, he wasn’t sure that people would be interested in this. I think otherwise. What do you think?