Factors that mediate treatment outcome of sexually abused preschool children: six- and 12-month follow-up

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1998 Jan;37(1):44-51. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199801000-00016.


Objective: The role of familial, demographic, developmental, and treatment-mediating factors on treatment outcome of sexually abused preschool children was evaluated 6 and 12 months after treatment.

Method: Forty-three sexually abused preschool children and their parents who were evaluated shortly after disclosure of sexual abuse and then were provided with one of two treatment interventions were reevaluated at the completion of treatment and 6 and 12 months after treatment. Parents completed the Child Behavior Checklist, the Child Sexual Behavior Inventory, and the Weekly Behavior Report to measure a variety of emotional and behavioral symptoms in children. Parents also completed the Beck Depression Inventory, the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales-III, the Parent Emotional Reaction Questionnaire, the Parental Support Questionnaire, and the Maternal Social Support Index. Children completed the Battelle Developmental Inventory and the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test at pretreatment to assess developmental levels.

Results: Correlational and stepwise multiple regression analyses were conducted to analyze the role of the hypothesized mediating variables in predicting scores on outcome measures across the two treatment groups. While the Parent Emotional Reaction Questionnaire was the strongest familial predictor of treatment outcome at posttreatment, parental support became a stronger predictor of outcome at the 6- and 12-month follow-up points. Treatment group was the strongest overall predictor of outcome at posttreatment and at 12-month follow-up. Demographic and developmental factors did not strongly predict outcome.

Conclusions: Findings indicate the strong impact of parental support on treatment outcome in sexually abused preschool children over the course of a 12-month follow-up and emphasize the importance of including parental interventions in treating sexually abused preschool children. They also support the superior effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy over supportive counseling for this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / therapy*
  • Child Psychiatry / methods*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy* / standards
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Person-Centered Psychotherapy* / standards
  • Regression Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome