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Br J Psychiatry. 2003 Dec;183:484-90.

Treating psychological symptoms in sexually abused children: from research findings to service provision.

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University of Oxford, Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Headington, Oxford, UK.



The experience of having been sexually abused is associated with a wide range of psychiatric symptoms and difficulties, and these problems can persist over years. The psychological treatment of children who have experienced sexual abuse has only recently begun to be systematically investigated. An increasing number of robust studies have been conducted.


To review systematically the available evidence from randomised controlled trials of psychological treatments for children who have been sexually abused, and to consider the place of these treatments in a multi-disciplinary service.


A systematic search of the available research was undertaken. Included trials were critically appraised and the results considered.


Twelve studies were included in the review. The best evidence of efficacy for improving psychological symptoms in these children was found for cognitive-behavioural therapy, particularly for young children.


Efficacious treatments existto improve psychological symptoms in children who have experienced sexual abuse. Consideration is given to the place of these treatments within the response of a multi-disciplinary service.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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