Review of meta-analyses on the association between child sexual abuse and adult mental health difficulties: a systematic approach

Trauma Violence Abuse. 2011 Jan;12(1):38-49. doi: 10.1177/1524838010386812.


This review evaluates the quality of recent meta-analyses on child sexual abuse and adult psychopathology. Using systematic review methods, seven recently published, English-language meta-analyses met the inclusion criteria of assessing outcome of child sexual abuse. Some methodological weaknesses were identified, such as failure to assess the validity of the primary studies. Child sexual abuse was found to be a nonspecific risk factor in the development of adult mental health difficulties, but the effect sizes varied (partly related to sample type and size). No gender difference was consistently found on adult mental health difficulties but was for victims' perceived mental health consequence. Future meta-analyses need to consider their methods of assessing primary studies to allow for an evidence-based model of adult psychopathology.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Causality
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data*
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mental Health
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult