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Clinical effects of sexual abuse on people with learning disability: Critical literature review

  • Heather Sequeira (a1) and Sheila Hollins (a1)

Abstract

Background

There are few publications concerning the psychological reactions of people with learning disabilities to sexual abuse. Most significantly, there are no controlled studies and few which demonstrate a systematic approach to documenting the sequelae of trauma.

Aims

To critically review the published research in this field.

Method

A literature search in peer-reviewed psychiatry, psychology nursing and social care journals for the years 1974 to 2001 was conducted and 25 studies were reviewed.

Results

Several studies suggest that, following sexual abuse, people with learning disabilities may experience a range of psychopathology similar to that experienced by adults and children in the general population. However, because of methodological limitations, these results are not conclusive.

Conclusions

Whether people with learning disabilities experience reactions to sexual abuse similar to the general population has yet to be explored by systematic research.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Heather Sequeira, Department of Psychiatry of Disability, St George's Hospital Medical School, Cranmer Terrace, London SW17 0RE, UK. Tel: 020 8725 5501; e-mail: heathersequeira@onetel.net.uk

Footnotes

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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes

References

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Clinical effects of sexual abuse on people with learning disability: Critical literature review

  • Heather Sequeira (a1) and Sheila Hollins (a1)
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