Association between childhood sexual abuse and later psychosis

January 01, 0001

Association between childhood sexual abuse and later psychosis

These Australian authors explored whether child sexual abuse is a risk factor for later psychotic disorders in a case-control study. The sample drawn from all notified cases of child sexual abuse over a 30-year period in Victoria, Australia. They identified 2759 individuals ascertained as having been sexually abused when younger than 16 years and ascertained subsequent contacts with mental health services by data linkage. They were compared with a community-based control group matched on sex and age groupings whose rates of disorder were established using identical methods.

They found: "Rates were significantly higher among child sexual abuse subjects compared with controls for psychosis in general (2.8% vs 1.4%; odds ratio, 2.1) and schizophrenic disorders in particular (1.9% vs 0.7%; odds ratio, 2.6). Those exposed to penetrative abuse had even higher rates of psychosis (3.4%) and schizophrenia (2.4%). Abuse without penetration was not associated with significant increases in psychosis or schizophrenia. The risks were highest for those whose abuse involved penetration, occurred after age 12 years, and involved more than 1 perpetrator, the combination producing rates of 8.6% for schizophrenia and 17.2% for psychosis."

The authors concluded: "Child sexual abuse involving penetration is a risk factor for developing psychotic and schizophrenic syndromes. The risk is greater for adolescents subjected to penetration. Irrespective of whether this statistical association reflects any causal link, it does identify an at-risk population in need of ongoing support and treatment."

This important association could lead to eventual preventive interventions.

For the full abstract, click here.

Arch Gen Psychiatry 67(11):1114-1119, November 2010
© 2010 to the American Medical Association
Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders in a Cohort of Sexually Abused Children. Margaret C. Cutajar, Paul E. Mullen, James R. P. Ogloff, Stuart D. Thomas, David L. Wells, Josie Spataro.

Category: P. Psychological, Z. Social Problems. Keywords: psychotic disorders, schizophrenia, sexual abuse, case-control study, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Linda French, Toledo, Ohio. Posted on Global Family Doctor 23 November 2009

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