Recent scandals in established American institutions (e.g., Catholic Church, Boy Scouts, Penn State University) have raised public awareness about the sexual abuse of boys. Subsequent research has found that approximately 15% of adult men report a history of child sexual abuse (CSA). These survivors are at increased risk for a broad range of negative psychological outcomes such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, personality disorders, and other psychiatric disorders. However, the knowledge base on this vulnerable, stigmatized, and hidden population is at a relatively nascent stage. Current studies of male survivors have major limitations including non-probability samples, samples with few/no participants over 50 years of age, and cross-sectional designs. To build a more robust research foundation about CSA and men's health, the proposed study has three specific aims.
The first aim i s to examine the relationship between CSA and the long-term mental health outcomes of men using data collected at midlife, early late life, and late life. The mental health outcomes include depression, anger/hostility, anxiety, psychosomatic symptoms and psychological well-being.
The second aim i s to investigate effect modifiers of CSA (including social support, coping style, masculine norms) on long-term mental health outcomes for men.
The third aim i s to examine sub-group trajectories among men who report a history of CSA. The data source for this secondary analysis will be a large, population-based dataset that followed a cohort of high school graduates from age 18 to 71 (i.e., Wisconsin Longitudinal Study). The study will have significant implications for knowledge development and public health. Understanding the influence of variables (e.g., social support, masculine norms) will strengthen our knowledge base for this vulnerable population. It will also provide vital information to revise and refine theoretical models of long-term recovery and healing from CSA. Beyond knowledge and theory development, the results will inform mental health assessment and treatment services and improve our ability to design targeted interventions for male survivors most in need of clinical services.
This study will improve prevention and clinical interventions for men with histories of childhood abuse by advancing our understanding of the effect of child sexual abuse on long- term mental health trajectories. Gaining knowledge about the influence of variables (e.g., social support, coping styles, masculine norms) will also provide vital informatio to revise and refine theoretical models of long-term recovery and healing from sexual abuse for men. Beyond knowledge and theory development, the results will improve mental health assessment and treatment services, including our ability to design targeted interventions for male survivors most in need of clinical services.