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Features of childhood sexual abuse and the development of psychiatric and substance use disorders

  • Cynthia M. Bulik (a1), Carol A. Prescott (a1) and Kenneth S. Kendler (a1)

Abstract

Background

Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is associated with an increased risk of subsequent psychiatric disorders.

Aims

To explore the risk associated with features of CSA and examine whether specific associations exist between particular profiles of CSA and the development of specific syndromes.

Method

In a population-based sample of adult female twins, we used logistic regression to explore the association between features of CSA (reported by the twin and her co-twin) and lifetime major depression, generalised anxiety disorder, bulimia nervosa, panic disorder and alcohol and drug dependence.

Results

In univariate and stepwise multiple regressions, patterns of predictors differed, although not significantly, across diagnoses. Greater risk was associated with attempted or completed intercourse, the use of force or threats, abuse by a relative, and a negative response by someone who was told about the abuse. Similar patterns were observed with co-twin reports.

Conclusions

Specific features of CSA differentially increase risk of later psychopathology; however, there do not appear to be unique predictive relationships between features of CSA and the emergence of specific psychiatric disorders.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Dr. C. M. Bulik, Department of Psychiatry, Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, PO Box 980126, Richmond, VA, 23298–0126, USA. Tel: 001 804 828 8129; fax: 001 804 828 1471; e-mail: cbulik@hsc.vcu.edu

Footnotes

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Declaration of interest

None. Funding detailed in Acknowledgements.

Footnotes

References

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Features of childhood sexual abuse and the development of psychiatric and substance use disorders

  • Cynthia M. Bulik (a1), Carol A. Prescott (a1) and Kenneth S. Kendler (a1)
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