OBJECTIVE: The purpose of the study was to describe more precisely the
type of psychiatric illness associated with incest during childhood.
METHOD: The Diagnostic Interview Schedule was administered to 52 adult
women who had been victims of incest during childhood and to 23 age- and
race-matched comparison subjects from local self-help agencies. RESULTS:
The prevalence of 19 psychiatric disorders was higher in the incest group
than base population rates. Rates of anxiety disorders (panic disorder,
agoraphobia, social and simple phobia), major depression, and alcohol abuse
and dependence were significantly higher in the incest group than in the
comparison group. More severe types of incestuous abuse were associated
with a higher risk for the development of psychiatric disorders.
CONCLUSIONS: There was an association between incest and psychiatric
disorders in this community-based treatment population. All patients,
especially those who present with these specific psychiatric disorders,
should be queried about childhood sexual abuse during the history.