Somatic disorders associated with sexual abuse

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A review of almost 2 dozen studies concluded that sexual abuse is associated with an increased risk of somatic disorders. Somatic disorders are typically identified by self-reports of physical symptoms from patients, however, with no evidence of underlying causality. According to an article recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, patients who experienced sexual abuse as either an adult or as a child were more likely to experience nonspecific chronic pain (OR 2.20; 95% CI 1.54 to 3.15), psychogenic seizures (OR 2.96; 95% CI 1.12 to 4.69), gastrointestinal disorders (OR 2.43; 95% CI 1.36 to 4.31) and chronic pelvic pain (OR 2.73; 95% CI 1.73 to 4.30). Ali Zirakzadeh, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, and colleagues, authors of the study, commenting, wrote, “Building greater awareness of the association between sexual abuse and somatic disorders may lead to improved health care delivery and outcomes for sexual abuse survivors… as a group, survivors of abuse have higher medical care use and incur greater costs compared with the general patient population.” Click here to read an article from Medpage Today that discusses this study more.

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