Factors associated with the development of posttraumatic stress disorder among child victims of sexual abuse
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This study examined the relationship between the development of PTSD and selected victim and event characteristics. The sample consisted of 69 girls and 21 boys (mean age = 12.4 years) who had been referred to a child witness preparation program following documentation of sexual abuse. Comparisons of PTSD positive (N = 44) and PTSD negative (N = 46) subgroups found significant differences on variables of age, sex, duration of the abuse, and the use of violence or coercion by the offender. Comparisons on psychological test data indicated that the PTSD subgroup significantly differed from the non-PTSD subgroup on the basis of children's abuse-related fears, anxiety, depression, and feelings of guilt related to the abuse. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis indicated that factors related to the nature and severity of the abuse and the child's self-report of guilt feelings each contributed significantly to explaining 37% of the variance in PTSD symptoms, even after the variables of receptive language ability, age, and sex were controlled. Discriminant function analysis correctly classified 78.4% of the respondents. The importance of considering PTSD in relation to child sexual abuse is discussed, along with limitations of the current study.