Long-term physical health consequences of childhood sexual abuse: a meta-analytic review

J Pediatr Psychol. 2010 Jun;35(5):450-61. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsp118. Epub 2009 Dec 18.


Objective: The purpose of the present article was to systematically review the literature investigating the long-term physical health consequences of childhood sexual abuse (CSA).

Methods: Literature searches yielded 31 studies comparing individuals with and without a history of CSA on six health outcomes: general health, gastrointestinal (GI) health, gynecologic or reproductive health, pain, cardiopulmonary symptoms, and obesity. Exploratory subgroup analyses were conducted to identify potential methodological moderators.

Results: Results suggested that a history of CSA was associated with small to moderate group differences on almost all health outcomes assessed, such that individuals with a history of CSA reported more complaints for each health outcome. Suggestive trends in moderating variables of study design and methodology are presented.

Conclusions: Results highlight the long-term physical health consequences of CSA and identify potential moderators to aid in the design of future research.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology*