Sexual Abuse and Its Impact on Suicidal Ideation and Attempts and Psychiatric Illness in Children and Adolescents With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Objective: Sexual abuse in minors aged 6–17 years is a significant public health concern. Victims of sexual abuse are at risk of developing complex psychopathology and chronic suicidal thoughts. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops in one-third of minors with a history of sexual abuse. The primary objective of this study was to assess the baseline characteristics of minors with PTSD and a history of sexual abuse (PTSD+S) compared with minors with PTSD without sexual abuse (PTSD only). The secondary objective was to evaluate the psychiatric comorbidities and suicidal ideation/attempts between the groups.
Methods: The National Inpatient Sample database from 2006 to 2014 was analyzed using the ICD-9 code for PTSD and history of sexual abuse. PTSD+S (n = 251) subjects were compared with those with PTSD only (n = 24,243) using t test and χ2 test. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed with suicidal behavior (suicidal ideation/attempt) as the outcome and PTSD with and without sexual abuse, sex, age, and other psychiatric comorbid conditions as independent variables.
Results: More patients in the PTSD+S group were nonwhite (52% vs 42%, P < .001) and female (81% vs 66%, P < .001) compared to PTSD only patients. Also, more patients were Hispanic in the PTSD+S group compared to the PTSD only group (28% vs 13%). Major depressive disorder (MDD; 23% vs 14%, P < .001) and substance use disorder (SUD; 20% vs 11%) were more commonly diagnosed psychiatric comorbidities in the PTSD+S group (P < .001). Suicidal behavior (suicidal ideation/attempt) was higher in the PTSD+S group than in PTSD only patients (36% vs 30%, P = .05). Overall, the risk of suicidal behavior was 29% higher in the PTSD+S group than in PTSD only patients (odds ratio [OR] = 1.29, P = .05). In the multivariate analysis, after controlling for age and sex, comorbid diagnosis of MDD (OR = 1.66, P < .001) and SUD (OR = 1.18, P < .001) was associated with increased suicidal behavior. However, PTSD+S showed no association with suicidality (OR = 1.16, P = .29) in the multivariate analysis.
Conclusions: Sexual abuse is associated with PTSD and higher risk of comorbid psychiatric illnesses, including MDD, SUD, and suicidal behavior. In-depth research on the relationship between child and adolescent sexual abuse and chronic suicidality is warranted.
Mainali P, Motiwala F, Trivedi C, et al. Sexual abuse and its impact on suicidal ideation and attempts and psychiatric illness in children and adolescents with posttraumatic stress disorder. Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2023;25(1):22m03239. https://doi.org/10.4088/PCC.22m03239
Prim Care Companion CNS Disord.