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Keywords:

  • child sexual abuse;
  • depression;
  • nursing;
  • post-traumatic stress;
  • pregnancy

yampolsky l., lev-wiesel r. & ben-zion i.z.(2010) Child sexual abuse: is it a risk factor for pregnancy? Journal of Advanced Nursing66(9), 2025–2037.

Abstract

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study of the relationship of post-traumatic stress symptoms, depression, and health status to high risk pregnancy status in survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Background.  Studies examining the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse have delineated diverse psychological, cognitive, and social difficulties in adult survivors that often manifest somatically.

Methods.  A random sample of 1835 mid-pregnant Jewish women was recruited in Israel over an 18-month period in 2005–2007. Participants were divided into three sub-groups consisting of the different combinations between pregnancy at risk (yes/no), childhood sexual abuse (yes/no), other than childhood sexual abuse trauma (yes no), and no trauma (yes/no). They completed a self-administered questionnaire consisting of five scales: a demographic variables scale, the Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Symptom Scale, Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, Traumatic Events Questionnaire, and Childhood Sexual Experiences Scale.

Findings.  Pregnant survivors of childhood sexual abuse suffered higher distress levels which heightened poor health, hence increasing the probability of high risk pregnancy compared to women who had had other than sexual abuse trauma or reported no trauma. Post traumatic stress symptoms and avoidance (a sub-category) were found to explain chronic illnesses, whereas depression was found to explain gynecological problems in pregnant sexually-abused survivors.

Conclusion.  Healthcare workers need to recognize and address the psychological state of pregnant child sexual abuse survivors. Screening of pregnant women for child sexual abuse is needed to assess survivors’ psychological well-being and recognize their unique concerns during pregnancy monitoring.