Sexually and physically abused foster care children and posttraumatic stress disorder

J Consult Clin Psychol. 1999 Jun;67(3):367-73. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.67.3.367.


Considerable debate exists regarding the possible relationship between child abuse and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In this study, 3 groups of foster care children were compared. The groups included 50 sexually abused, 50 physically abused, and 50 nonabused foster care children. Participants completed the Child Post-Traumatic Stress Reaction Index, the Childhood PTSD Interview, and the Modified Stroop Procedure (MSP), which included sexual abuse and nonsexual abuse stimuli. The MSP has not been previously used in child abuse research. Results indicated that sexually and physically abused children demonstrated PTSD at a high level. The MSP discriminated between the sexually abused children with PTSD and those without PTSD. Responses to the MSP sexual abuse stimuli resulted in significantly longer color-naming times than responses to nonsexual abuse stimuli. Preadolescents demonstrated more severe PTSD than early adolescent children.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Female
  • Foster Home Care / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychological Tests
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology