PURPOSE: Somatization is a major post-traumatic symptom in sexually abused children. Thus, the present study aimed to determine the relationship between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and somatization, and between intelligence and somatization in child sexual abuse victims and to elucidate whether type of abuse had an effect on the relationship between PTSD symptoms and somatization.
METHODS: This study evaluated the somatizations (Child Behavioral Checklist/6-18 [CBCL]), PTSD symptoms (Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children [TSCC]), and intelligence levels of 63 sexually abused children. Correlation and regression analyses were performed to predict somatization based on PTSD symptoms, intelligence, age, and type of sexual abuse, and to find moderating effect of type of abuse on the effect of PTSD symptom on somatization.
RESULTS: PTSD symptoms (beta = 0.471, p = 0.001) and intelligence (beta = 0.327, p = 0.021) were associated with somatization. Type of abuse was not, by itself, correlated with somatization (beta = 0.158, p = 0.281), but it did have a moderating effect on the effect of PTSD symptoms on somatization (Type of abuse*PTSD symptoms, beta = -0.299, p = 0.047). PTSD symptoms were associated with somatization only among those who experienced the molestation type of abuse.
CONCLUSIONS: Somatization in sexually abused children was influenced by the severity of PTSD symptoms and intelligence, and the effect of the PTSD symptoms on somatization was moderated by type of abuse. Specifically, the rape type of abuse may attenuate the effect of post-traumatic symptoms on somatization.
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