Population-attributable risk of childhood sexual abuse for symptoms of depression and suicidal ideation in adulthood

Robert D. Goldney, Eleonora Dal Grande, Anne Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The aim of the study was to assess the population-attributable risks (PAR) of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) for depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation in adulthood. 

Method: A total of 2501 adult participants were randomly recruited and interviewed using a computer-assisted telephone interviewing system. They responded to items designed to assess depressive symptoms (SF-12), suicidal ideation (GHQ-28), and other distressing events, including CSA, as part of a broader, mental health survey of the South Australian population. 

Results: Logistic regression analyses indicated that CSA was associated with both depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation. However, PAR estimates indicated that only 0.8% of depressive symptoms could be attributed to CSA. Similarly, only 2.2% of suicidal ideation in the population could be attributed to CSA. 

Conclusions: Notwithstanding the individual distress associated with CSA, a population perspective indicated that the impact of CSA in adulthood was not as great as one might interpret from media reports.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-291
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice
Issue number4
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Population-attributable risk
  • Suicidal ideation


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