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Psychiatric status of sexually abused children 12 months after disclosure of abuse.

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1
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Auckland School of Medicine, New Zealand.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The assessment of psychiatric status of sexually abused children 12 months after the disclosure of recent sexual abuse.

METHOD:

Ninety-five children, aged from 4 through 16 years, were recruited to the study from a variety of agencies other than psychiatric units. Sixty-six (69.5%) were assessed for psychiatric diagnosis on DSM-III-R using data from parents, teachers, and children 12 months after disclosure of abuse. Abuse was extra- and intrafamilial.

RESULTS:

Overall 63.5% of the children warranted a diagnosis on Axis I. There was a wide range of diagnoses, with particularly high rates of oppositional defiant disorder (19.6%), post-traumatic stress disorder (18.2%), anxiety disorders (30.3%), depressive disorders (12.1%), and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (13.6%). Boys had a higher rate of diagnosis than girls. Abuse and social variables did not predict diagnoses but mothers' mental status rated on the General Health Questionnaire did. Subjects not located at follow-up were more often male and more likely to be socioeconomically disadvantaged. Thus the estimates of psychopathology here are likely to be conservative.

CONCLUSIONS:

This study highlights the need of sexually abused children for skilled long-term therapy tailored to individual presentation.

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