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Child Abuse Negl. 2000 Nov;24(11):1471-84.

Symptomatology and health care utilization of women primary care patients who experienced childhood sexual abuse.

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University of Iowa, College of Nursing, Iowa City, USA.



The purpose of this study was to (1) determine the symptomatology of women primary care patients who experienced childhood sexual abuse (CSA), using both a self-report survey and a chart review, and (2) determine their health care utilization patterns, using chart and information system reviews.


An ex post facto research design was used. Women primary care patients who experienced CSA were compared with those who reported no CSA. Participants were recruited from a random sample of women patients from a large primary care clinic. They were mailed the survey; chart and information system reviews were conducted on those who returned surveys.


Of the 395 participants, 23% reported past CSA on the survey. Women who experienced CSA reported 44 out of 51 physical and psychosocial symptoms more frequently than their counterparts who reported no past CSA. Further, they experienced these symptoms more intensely and in greater number. In their charts, however, far fewer differences in symptoms between groups were found. Nonetheless, women who experienced CSA visited the primary care clinic an average of 1.33 more times than women with no CSA, and they incurred an average of $150 more in primary care charges over a 2-year period.


The findings indicate that many women primary care patients who experienced CSA suffer multiple symptoms that are not reflected in their charts. In addition, the findings demonstrate that not only is CSA associated with increased primary care visits, but also increased primary care costs, as measured by charges.

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