The effects, both long and short, of child sexual abuse have been studied and researched numerous times in order to answer the many questions that relate child sexual abuse to psychopathology. This review is on seven different literature reviews that focus on the effects of child sexual abuse, and they all differ in one way or another. Some are simply focused on the effects, others with the sex of the victim, prevalence of abuse, the severity of disturbance, and other meta-analysis which consist of a combination of other literature reviews.
The focus of this review of the seven literature reviews is whether clinical reviews are representative of the general population, or if this question of bias is a relevant concern among the various studies conducted. A major problem is that most reviews have an almost exclusive focus on clinical studies (Bauserman and Rind 1997). Most pay little or no attention to clinical research because the subjects are usually a captive audience and it is easier to obtain the information needed.
This personal information may not be so easily obtainable from nonclinical subjects because the information is extremely sensitive and most people are not willing to discuss matters of such sensitive personal natures. Bauserman and Rind (1997) suggest that samples obtained exclusively from clinical sources may be skewed toward those suffering the most harm or distress associated with their experiences, but one may also ascertain from this that these are the ones that would most benefit from the research, and if they are not the focus how can researchers help.
Nonclinical samples consist of random representative surveys of a specific group of people in a particular area: college students or patrons at a bar. These subjects simply volunteer to be participants in the survey/research. The prevalence in clinical samples of nonrandom representative samples can be higher or lower than the true rate depending which specific group is sampled (Beitchman, Zucker, Hood, DaCosta, Akman and Cassavia 1992).
Seeking volunteers may also result in higher or lower prevalence rates of child sexual abuse, so if both clinical and nonclinical results vary in the prevalence rates, why not use the samples where the effects of child sexual abuse have already been reported The results of Jumper (1995) investigation indicated that the studies conducted with student populations yield, significantly, lower homogenous effect size estimates when compared to clinical populations. This may show a positive adjustment following child sexual abuse among the student populations.
Reads study on the severity of disturbance as it relates to the abuse was a review that consisted of one hundred clinical samples. These samples were made up by reviewing adult psychiatric patients medical records. Although this method is effective, the results may be skewed. Numerous studies have been demonstrated that routine clinical practice within psychiatric settings assessed by examination of medical records produces significantly lower abuse rates than those elicited by questioning all patients (Read 1998).
The results of this study may be slightly skewed because of Reads methodology, but if the research was redone, the outcome would enforce Reads conclusion that severe dysfunction has a relation with victims of child sexual abuse. Clinical samples are problematic because they are not representative of the general population (Rind And Tromovitch 1997), but in order to determine the psychological correlates to child sexual abuse, it would be necessary to study the most severely disturbed child sexual abuse victims.
Rind and Tromovitch (1997) rejected clinical studies because the results from the studies could not be accepted as scientifically valid for the entire population. This may lead other researchers to ask what is it they are trying to discover. If so, the population may consist of entirely clinical samples in order to determine how to help other victims adjust psychologically after being a victim of child sexual abuse.
Schaaf and McCanne (1998) conducted their nonclinical study using 475 female college students. Although entirely nonclinical, the results are still subject to biases. The sample of participants in the study may not be representative of abuse victims since the participants were functioning well enough to be attending a university (Schaaf and McCanne 1998). The accuracy of reported events might be questionable because the events concern participants memories and emotional reactions at the time of the incident.
Wyatt, Burns Loeb, Solis, Vargag Carmona (1998) conducted a stratified probability sampling that focused on child sexual abuse in African American and European American women and compared the data with data obtained a decade ago. The stratified probability falls under nonclinical research, but the problem with this is that the participants were contacted by telephone and their responses were the only information researchers had to rely on as being truth.
The study was to compare the incidents of child sexual abuse or abuse from a decade ago to the time of the study, but according to Wyatt, Burns Loeb, Solis, and Vargas Carmona (1998) most incidents of child sexual abuse were not reported to police or social service agencies by either African or European American women ten years ago. With this in mind, it would lead one to believe that if these women and families would not call social services or the police then they would probably be reluctant to talk to researchers. This could undoubtedly lead to underreporting the actual results.
The final problematic area with this type of study is the probability. Probability to so many lacks reliability because the results can easily be miss-interrupted or misreported. This review of the seven literature reviews could give future researchers an idea to focus on to better their research. These reviews all have their good and bad components, and bits and pieces from each could be combined into one extensive research project that may help discover a treatment for victims of child sexual abuse before they experience any psychological dysfunctions.