Purpose: To estimate the prevalence of sexual abuse and to explore the relationship between sexual abuse and self-reported psychological and somatic health problems as well as use of medications among Norwegian 10th-year students.
Methods: Data were collected between 2000-2002, and 11 159 adolescents aged 15-16 years participated in the Youth Health Surveys in three counties in Norway. The following item form the questionnaire measured exposure to sexual abuse: Have you during the last 12 months experienced sexual abuse (e.g. flashing, fondling, forced intercourse etc.)? Other health-related variables analyzed were general health, pain complaints, use of medications and mental distress.
Results: Sexual abuse during the last year was noted by 1,6% of the boys and 5,6% of the girls, in total 3,6%. Sexually abused subjects reported poor health in general, more pain, a higher use of medications and more mental distress compared to subjects with a negative history of abuse.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that a self-reported history of sexual abuse is associated with poorer health in general, increased pain complaints, a higher use of medications, and more mental distress. The results show that more knowledge about the possible consequences of sexual abuse is crucial in planning of prevention and clinical interventions in the field.