Sexual abuse and associations with psychosocial aspects of health. A population- based study with Swedish adolescents.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Few population-based Nordic studies with adolescents investigate the associations between sexual abuse (SA) and psychosocial health. Aim: Associations between adolescents' self-reported experiences of SA different severity and aspects of psychosocial health such as emotional and behavioral problems, sense of coherence and self-esteem (general comment: sense of coherence=the theoretical concept, Sense of Coherence Scale (SOC)=measure of sense of coherence, were investigated. Methods: A school-based study with 1107 Swedish high school seniors was conducted. The students completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), the Sense of Coherence Scale (SOC), I think I am and a self-report survey that included questions about SA, socio-demographic variables and family variables. Results: SA was related to more emotional and behavioral problems, weaker SOC and lower self-esteem when compared with non-abuse. There was also a dose-response effect insofar as more severe abuse was related to poorer psychosocial health. When adjusted for socio-demographic and family-related variables, the associations between penetrating SA and most of the health variables weakened or disappeared. SOC was associated with penetrating SA even after adjustment. Conclusions: This population-based study suggests that SA should not be regarded as an isolated factor in relation to psychosocial health as the associations at a group level may be smaller than expected. Among a number of covariates, family variables such as parental bonding showed to be especially important. Sense of Coherence may be of special interest in further research and clinical treatment.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychiatry
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-48
JournalNordic Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch