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Clin Psychol Rev. 2008 Jun;28(5):711-35. Epub 2007 Nov 28.

Childhood and adolescent sexual abuse and subsequent sexual risk behavior: evidence from controlled studies, methodological critique, and suggestions for research.

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  • 1Center for Health and Behavior, Syracuse University, 430 Huntington Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244-2340, USA.


Childhood and adolescent sexual abuse (CSA) is associated with a wide variety of adverse psychological and health outcomes, including negative sexual health outcomes. In this paper, we review the literature investigating the relation between CSA and subsequent sexual risk behaviors among men and women. Previous research has found a relatively consistent association between CSA and higher rates of sexual risk behaviors, particularly sex trading, more sexual partners, and an earlier age of first intercourse. However, there are a number of limitations to this research, including lack of a consistent definition of CSA, failure to investigate gender as a moderator, and possible confounding of the CSA experience with some of the sexual behavior outcome variables. Further, although there appears to be an association between CSA and later sexual risk behavior, researchers have not established whether this association is causal. Suggestions for future research and implications for clinical practice are discussed.

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