Objective: The purpose of the current study was to investigate the independent effects of different treatment elements on a number of secondary problems related to childhood and adolescent sexual abuse, as well as investigate a number of different moderators of treatment effectiveness. Method: Twenty-eight studies that provided treatment outcome results for children and adolescents who had been sexually abused were included in the meta-analysis. Different aspects of psychological treatment, such as specific treatment modalities (individual, cognitive-behavioral, etc.) or secondary problems (behavior problems, psychological distress, etc.) were investigated. Results: The overall mean weighted effect size for the meta-analysis was d = .72 (SE = .02). The results indicate that psychological treatment after childhood or adolescent sexual abuse tended to result in better outcomes than no treatment. There was significant heterogeneity in the effectiveness of the various psychological treatment elements. Play therapy seemed to be the most effective treatment for social functioning, whereas cognitive-behavioral, abuse-specific, and supportive therapy in either group or individual formats was most effective for behavior problems. Cognitive-behavioral, family, and individual therapy seemed to be the most effective for psychological distress, and abuse-specific, cognitive-behavioral, and group therapy appeared to be the most effective for low self-concept. Conclusions: The choice of therapy modality should depend on the child's main presenting secondary problem. Further research should be conducted investigating other possible moderators and secondary problem outcomes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health