Posttraumatic cognitions, childhood sexual abuse characteristics, and posttraumatic stress disorder in men who have sex with men

Gail Ironson, Calvin Fitch, Nikhil Banerjee, Emily Hylton, Ivan Ivardic, Steven A. Safren, Conall O'Cleirigh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: High rates of experience of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) among in men who have sex with men (MSM) place this population at increased risk for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Objective: This study explores how specific characteristics of CSA relate to posttraumatic cognitions (PTCs) and explores the role that specific PTCs play in the relationship between CSA and PTSD in MSM. Methods: Two-hundred and ninety MSM completed a CSA interview, the Davidson Trauma Scale, and the Posttraumatic Cognitions Inventory. Results: Controlling for sociodemographic factors, CSA involving physical injury and CSA with intense fear were associated with higher levels of PTCs about the self and world, but not with self-blame. We did not find significant associations for CSA involving a family member, CSA with penetration, or duration or frequency of CSA with any subscale on the PTCI. Experiencing CSA for the first time during adolescence was associated with higher self-blame. Analyses revealed that physical injury and intense fear each had indirect effects on PTSD symptoms through negative cognitions about the self and world. First CSA episode during adolescence had an indirect effect on PTSD symptoms through self-blame. CSAs accounted for 16.7% and PTCs accounted for 31.7% of the variance in PTSD, underlining the importance of PTCs. Conclusions: Assessing for physical injury, intense fear, and age at first CSA are particularly relevant to PTCs and of critical importance to advancing assessment and treatment strategies for PTSD in MSM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104187
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • CSA
  • Cognitions
  • PTSD
  • Posttraumatic
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Posttraumatic cognitions, childhood sexual abuse characteristics, and posttraumatic stress disorder in men who have sex with men'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this