The prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder among sexually abused children at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya

C. A. Ombok, A. Obondo, R. Kangethe, L. Atwoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) develops following some stressful events. There has been increasing recognition that children who have been exposed to traumatic events like child sexual abuse can develop post-traumatic stress disorder just like adults. Objective: To determine prevalence of PTSD in sexually abused children seen at the Gender Based Violence Recovery Centre at Kenyatta National Hospital. Design: A cross sectional descriptive study. Setting: Gender Based Violence Recovery Centre – Kenyatta National Hospital. Subjects One hundred and forty-nine (n = 149) sexually abused children were recruited in the study. Results: The mean age 14.8%boys and 85.2% girls was 13.2 years (SD 4.2) the age at which sexual abuse most frequently (55%) occurred between 15-17 years. Sixty three percent of children reported that the perpetrator was known to them, and 76.5% of perpetrators used verbal or physical force during sexual assault. The prevalence of PTSD among the sexually abused children was 49%. PTSD was significantly associated with shorter duration of sexual abuse i.e. daily which is 67% as compared to months which is 4.7% (p = 0.005), Greater severity of injuries sustained during assault (p = 0.023), parent’s marital status those whose parents were married or cohabiting 40% were affected as compared to 52% whose parents were separated or divorced (p = 0.003) and the family's way of sorting out their disagreements was also significantly associated with PTSD. Parents who sorted their disagreement by talking was at 31% while those who sorted their disagreement by fighting was at 67% (p < 0.001). Conclusions: This study highlights the high prevalence of PTSD among sexually abused children presenting at Kenyatta National Hospital Nairobi-Kenya. PTSD is associated with the degree of physical or verbal abuse during sexual abuse, injuries during assault, and parent-child relationships. These findings are important in formulation of appropriate prevention and care interventions to be implemented by families and other stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-337
Number of pages6
JournalEast African Medical Journal
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


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