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Child Abuse Negl. 2000 Mar;24(3):391-409.

Mental health professionals' attitudes and practices towards male childhood sexual abuse.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK.



This study aims to test the hypothesis of Holmes, Offen, and Waller (1997) that mental health professionals are not asking male patients about histories of sexual abuse. It also aims to investigate general attitudes and practices of mental health professionals to the issue of male sexual abuse.


One hundred and seventy-nine questionnaires were given to nurses, psychologists, and psychiatrists asking 10 questions about their attitudes and practice towards male sexual abuse.


The majority of staff questioned rarely inquire about sexual abuse in male patients; staff are generally using ineffective and unsystematic methods of enquiry when they do ask; knowledge of prevalence rates of male sexual abuse are extremely variable; and 2/3 of staff report having had no specific training in assessment/treatment of sexual abuse and a similar number do not feel sufficiently trained to be able to inquire about sexual abuse in male patients.


The study provides evidence for Holmes and colleagues' (1997) hypothesis that men are not being asked about sexual abuse histories. It also highlights a need for training professionals about male sexual abuse.

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