Effects of group treatment for women with a history of childhood sexual abuse

Nancy L. Talbot, Rory P. Houghtalen, Paul R. Duberstein, Christopher Cox, Donna E. Giles, Lyman C. Wynne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Empirical support for the effectiveness of group therapies for women with a history of childhood sexual abuse is scant. This study examined the feasibility of conducting abuse-focused research and group treatment on a short-term unit and evaluated the effectiveness of the Women's Safety in Recovery group. Methods: Eighty-six women with a history of childhood sexual abuse participated in treatment as usual (N=38) or in the Women's Safety in Recovery group (N=48). The latter group met three times weekly for one hour, focusing on patients' current safety and self-care. Participants completed the Symptom Checklist - Revised at baseline, discharge, and six-month follow- up. Patients rated their experience in treatment at discharge and six-month follow-up, and therapists rated patients' treatment experiences at discharge. The feasibility of the treatment group was measured by enrollment rates, group attendance, and attrition. Results: Eighty-two percent of eligible patients agreed to enroll in the study. Women's Safety in Recovery participants attended an average of ten group meetings. Seventy percent of enrollees completed discharge assessments, and of these, 82 percent completed the six-month follow-up. Compared with treatment-as-usual patients, Women's Safety in Recovery participants reported greater symptom improvement and reported that their childhood sexual abuse issues had been more thoroughly addressed. These differences were present at discharge and at six-month follow-up. Therapists also perceived that abuse issues of these participants had been more thoroughly addressed. Conclusions: Women's Safety in Recovery participants reported significant reductions in distress compared with those receiving treatment as usual. The abuse-focused research program and the Women's Safety in Recovery group proved feasible, despite attrition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)686-692
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatric Services
Volume50
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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