Heterogeneous symptom patterns of sexually abused children in treatment: Understanding the complexity of the problem

Genelle K. Sawyer, David J. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


A major challenge for clinicians and researchers is the heterogeneity of the severity and type of symptoms presented by sexually abused youth, including those who are subclinical on traditional clinical measures but still present to treatment. Most research continues to treat sexually abused youth as a single population and has not assessed the outcomes or symptom trajectories of various groups of sexually abused youth. Participants included 107 sexually abused children and their nonoffending parents presenting to a cognitive-behavioral group treatment. A cluster analysis using child- and parent-report measures revealed four profiles, including Subclinical, Highly Distressed, Problem Behaviors, and Self-Reported Distress clusters. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to create separate child- and parent-report models of weekly symptomatology to examine differential change over the course of treatment. Contrary to expectation, there was little variation in the weekly rates of change for the different symptom groups; however, all groups evidenced a decrease in symptoms over the course of treatment, including the Subclinical cluster. ©

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)900-917
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Child Sexual Abuse
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 17 2014


  • child sexual abuse
  • cluster analysis
  • psychopathology
  • treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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