, Volume 121, Issue 3, pp 1505–1525 | Cite as

Research performance and trends in child sexual abuse research: a Science Citation Index Expanded-based analysis

  • Maribel Vega-Arce
  • Gonzalo Salas
  • Gastón Núñez-Ulloa
  • Cristián Pinto-Cortez
  • Ivelisse Torres Fernandez
  • Yuh-Shan HoEmail author


Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a serious public health problem (Gilbert et al. in Lancet 373(9658):167–180, 2009a.; Singh et al. in J Fam Med Prim Care 3(4):430–435, 2014.; Veenema et al. in Int J Nurs Stud 52(4):864–881, 2015. and a risk factor for child development (Barth et al. in Int J Public Health 58(3):469–483, 2013. The present bibliometric analysis evaluated research performance and trends of CSA research from 1991 to 2017. The analysis was based on data extracted from Science Citation Index Expanded. The results revealed a progressive increase in the volume of indexed articles that sharply grows between 2009 and 2017. The majority of the papers analyzed were in the area of psychiatry. In total, these articles were published mostly in English and in 777 journals, the largest volume of articles were in the field of pediatrics. The journal authors come from 105 countries, with the United States ranking on the top in all bibliometrics indicators assessed, including number of articles produced by institution. Three thousand seven hundred and fourteen articles (3714) articles on CSA were utilized to calculate the Y-index for authors. From the authors, J.D. Bremner and G. Hornor have the highest contributions with a Y-index of 24 (0.7854). Other findings indicated that the peak of citations per publication occured in the 5th year. The most frequently cited and most impactful article was from Felitti et al. (Am J Prev Med 14(4):245–258, 1998. Six of the ten highly cited papers maintained their impact according to the 2017 citations. Data also revealed that research trends in the field of CSA can be clustered into 11 categories, with violence being the one that concentrates the greatest number of terms used in the papers. The three main hotspots are sexual abuse, maltreatment and sexual development. Lastly, this article discusses the type of research that contributes to the body of knowledge about CSA and the challenges this poses for the projection of future studies.


Child sexual abuse Psychosocial factors Bibliometric Clarivate analytics Web of Science core collection Y-index 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.


  1. Almuneef, M., Qayad, M., Aleissa, M., & Albuhairan, F. (2014). Adverse childhood experiences, chronic diseases, and risky health behaviors in Saudi Arabian adults: A pilot study. Child Abuse and Neglect,38(11), 1787–1793. Scholar
  2. Amado, B. G., Arce, R., & Herraiz, A. (2015). Psychological injury in victims of child sexual abuse: A meta-analytic review. Psychosocial Intervention-Intervencion Psicosocial,24(1), 49–62. Scholar
  3. Aprile, A., Ranzano, C., Rizorro, M., & Facchin, P. (2009). Child sexual abuse. Pitfalls in the substantiation process. New York: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar
  4. Baltussen, A., & Kindler, C. H. (2004). Citation classics in critical care medicine. Intensive Care Medicine,30(5), 902–910. Scholar
  5. Barth, J., Bermetz, L., Heim, E., Trelle, S., & Tonia, T. (2013). The current prevalence of child sexual abuse worldwide: A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Public Health,58(3), 469–483. Scholar
  6. Behl, L. E., Conyngham, H. A., & May, P. F. (2003). Trends in child maltreatment literature. Child Abuse and Neglect,27(2), 215–229. Scholar
  7. Bernstein, D. P., Ahluvalia, T., Pogge, D., & Handelsman, L. (1997). Validity of the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire in an adolescent psychiatric population. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,36(3), 340–348. Scholar
  8. Bernstein, D. P., Fink, L., Handelsman, L., Foote, J., Lovejoy, M., Wenzel, K., et al. (1994). Initial reliability and validity of a new retrospective measure of child-abuse and neglect. American Journal of Psychiatry,151(8), 1132–1136. Scholar
  9. Bernstein, D. P., Stein, J. A., Newcomb, M. D., Walker, E., Pogge, D., Ahluvalia, T., et al. (2003). Development and validation of a brief screening version of the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Child Abuse and Neglect,27(2), 169–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bokhari, M., Badar, M., Naseer, U., Waheed, A., & Safdar, F. (2015). Adverse childhood experiences & impulsivity in late adolescence & young adulthood of students of university of the Punjab Lahore. Pakistan Journal of Professional Psychologists,6(1), 31–34.Google Scholar
  11. Bolen, R. M., & Scannapieco, M. (1999). Prevalence of child sexual abuse: A corrective metanalysis. Social Service Review,73(3), 281–313. Scholar
  12. Browne, A., & Finkelhor, D. (1986). Impact of child sexual abuse: A review of the research. Psychological Bulletin,99(1), 66–77. Scholar
  13. Chen, H. Q., & Ho, Y. S. (2015). Highly cited articles in biomass research: A bibliometric analysis. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews,49, 12–20. Scholar
  14. Chiu, W. T., & Ho, Y. S. (2005). Bibliometric analysis of homeopathy research during the period of 1991 to 2003. Scientometrics,63(1), 3–23. Scholar
  15. Chiu, W. T., & Ho, Y. S. (2007). Bibliometric analysis of tsunami research. Scientometrics,73(1), 3–17. Scholar
  16. Choudhry, V., Dayal, R., Pillai, D., Kalokhe, A. S., Beier, K., & Patel, V. (2018). Child sexual abuse in India: A systematic review. PLoS ONE,13(10), e0205086. Scholar
  17. Chuang, K. Y., Huang, Y. L., & Ho, Y. S. (2007). A bibliometric and citation analysis of stroke-related research in Taiwan. Scientometrics,72(2), 201–212. Scholar
  18. Chuang, K. Y., Wang, M. H., & Ho, Y. S. (2011). High-impact papers presented in the subject category of water resources in the essential science indicators database of the institute for scientific information. Scientometrics,87(3), 551–562. Scholar
  19. Clarivate Analytics (2019). InCites journal citation reports. Retrieved January 31, 2019 from
  20. Domhardt, M., Munzer, A., Fegert, J. M., & Goldbeck, L. (2015). Resilience in survivors of child sexual abuse: A systematic review of the literature. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse,16(4), 476–493. Scholar
  21. Dube, S. R., Anda, R. F., Felitti, V. J., Chapman, D. P., Williamson, D. F., & Giles, W. H. (2001). Childhood abuse, household dysfunction, and the risk of attempted suicide throughout the life span: Findings from the adverse childhood experiences study. JAMA-Journal of the American Medical Association,286(24), 3089–3096. Scholar
  22. Dube, S. R., Anda, R. F., Whitfield, C. L., Brown, D. W., Felitti, V., Dong, M., et al. (2005). Long-term consequences of childhood sexual abuse by gender of victim. American Journal of Preventive Medicine,28(5), 430–438. Scholar
  23. Edwards, V. J., Holden, G. W., Felitti, V. J., & Anda, R. F. (2003). Relationship between multiple forms of childhood maltreatment and adult mental health in community respondents: Results from the adverse childhood experiences study. American Journal of Psychiatry,160(8), 1453–1460. Scholar
  24. Elango, B., & Ho, Y. S. (2017). A bibliometric analysis of highly cited papers from India in Science Citation Index Expanded. Current Science,112(8), 1653–1658. Scholar
  25. Felitti, V. J., Anda, R. F., Nordenberg, D., Williamson, D. F., Spitz, A. M., Edwards, V., et al. (1998). Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults: The adverse childhood experiences (ACE) study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine,14(4), 245–258. Scholar
  26. Finkelhor, D. (1979). What’s wrong with sex between adults and children? Ethics and the problem of sexual abuse. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry,49(4), 692–697. Scholar
  27. Finkelhor, D. (1986). A sourcebook on child sexual abuse (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
  28. Fu, H. Z., & Ho, Y. S. (2014). Top cited articles in adsorption research using Y-index. Research Evaluation,23(1), 12–20. Scholar
  29. Fu, H. Z., Wang, M. H., & Ho, Y. S. (2012). The most frequently cited adsorption research articles in the Science Citation Index (Expanded). Journal of Colloid and Interface Science,379(1), 148–156. Scholar
  30. Fu, H. Z., Wang, M. H., & Ho, Y. S. (2013). Mapping of drinking water research: A bibliometric analysis of research output during 1992–2011. Science of the Total Environment,443, 757–765. Scholar
  31. Garfield, E. (1977). Introducing citation classics. The human side of scientific reports. Current Contents,1, 5–7.Google Scholar
  32. Garfield, E. (1994). Scientography: Mapping the tracks of science. Current Contents: Social & Behavioural Sciences,7(45), 5–10.Google Scholar
  33. Gilbert, R., Kemp, A., Thoburn, J., Sidebotham, P., Radford, L., Glaser, D., et al. (2009a). Child maltreatment 2: Recognising and responding to child maltreatment. Lancet,373(9658), 167–180. Scholar
  34. Gilbert, R., Widom, C. S., Browne, K., Fergusson, D., Webb, E., & Janson, S. (2009b). Child maltreatment 1: Burden and consequences of child maltreatment in high-income countries. Lancet,373(9657), 68–81. Scholar
  35. Goodman, M. L., Martinez, K., Keiser, P. H., Gitari, S., & Seidel, S. E. (2017). Why do Kenyan children live on the streets? Evidence from a cross-section of semi-rural maternal caregivers. Child Abuse and Neglect,63, 51–60. Scholar
  36. Greijer, S. and Doek, J. (2016), Terminology Guidelines for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse. Luxenburg.Google Scholar
  37. Haugaard, J. J. (2000). The challenge of defining child sexual abuse. American Psychologist,55(9), 1036–1039. Scholar
  38. Heim, C., Newport, D. J., Heit, S., Graham, Y. P., Wilcox, M., Bonsall, R., et al. (2000). Pituitary-adrenal and autonomic responses to stress in women after sexual and physical abuse in childhood. JAMA-Journal of the American Medical Association,284(5), 592–597. Scholar
  39. Ho, Y. S. (2012). Top-cited articles in chemical engineering in Science Citation Index Expanded: A bibliometric analysis. Chinese Journal of Chemical Engineering,20(3), 478–488. Scholar
  40. Ho, Y. S. (2013). The top-cited research works in the Science Citation Index Expanded. Scientometrics,94(3), 1297–1312. Scholar
  41. Ho, Y. S. (2014a). A bibliometric analysis of highly cited articles in materials science. Current Science,107(9), 1565–1572.Google Scholar
  42. Ho, Y. S. (2014b). Classic articles on social work field in Social Science Citation Index: A bibliometric analysis. Scientometrics,98(1), 137–155. Scholar
  43. Ho, Y. S., & Fu, H. Z. (2016). Mapping of metal-organic frameworks publications: A bibliometric analysis. Inorganic Chemistry Communications,73, 174–182. Scholar
  44. Ho, Y. S., & Hartley, J. (2016). Classic articles published by American scientists (1900–2014): A bibliometric analysis. Current Science,111(7), 1156–1165. Scholar
  45. Ho, Y. S., & Kahn, M. (2014). A bibliometric study of highly cited reviews in the Science Citation Index Expanded™. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology,65(2), 372–385. Scholar
  46. Ho, Y. S., Siu, E., & Chuang, K. Y. (2016). A bibliometric analysis of dengue-related publications in the Science Citation Index Expanded. Future Virology,11(9), 631–648. Scholar
  47. Hsieh, W. H., Chiu, W. T., Lee, Y. S., & Ho, Y. S. (2004). Bibliometric analysis of patent ductus arteriosus treatments. Scientometrics,60(2), 205–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ivanović, D., & Ho, Y. S. (2016). Highly cited articles in the information science and library science category in Social Science Citation Index: A bibliometric analysis. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science,48(1), 36–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Jackson, A. M., & Deye, K. (2015). Aspects of abuse: Consequences of childhood victimization. Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care,45(3), 86–93. Scholar
  50. Kempe, C. H. (1978). Sexual abuse, another hidden pediatric problem—1977 C. Anderson Aldric lecture. Pediatrics,62(3), 382–389. Scholar
  51. Li, Z., & Ho, Y. S. (2008). Use of citation per publication as an indicator to evaluate contingent valuation research. Scientometrics,75(1), 97–110. Scholar
  52. Lin, C. L., & Ho, Y. S. (2015). A bibliometric analysis of publications on pluripotent stem cell research. Cell Journal,17(1), 59–70. Scholar
  53. MacMillan, H. L., Wathen, C. N., Barlow, J., Fergusson, D. M., Leventhal, J. M., & Taussig, H. N. (2009). Child maltreatment 3: Interventions to prevent child maltreatment and associated impairment. Lancet,373(9659), 250–266. Scholar
  54. Maniglio, R. (2009). The impact of child sexual abuse on health: A systematic review of reviews. Clinical Psychology Review,29(7), 647–657. Scholar
  55. Mao, N., Wang, M. H., & Ho, Y. S. (2010). A bibliometric study of the trend in articles related to risk assessment published in Science Citation Index. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, 16(4), 801–824.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Marwaha, S., & Bebbington, P. (2015). Mood as a mediator of the link between child sexual abuse and psychosis. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology,50(4), 661–663. Scholar
  57. Mathews, B., & Collin-Vézina, D. (2017). Child sexual abuse: Toward a conceptual model and definition. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse. Scholar
  58. Mo, Z. W., Fu, H. Z., & Ho, Y. S. (2018). Highly cited articles in wind tunnel-related research: A bibliometric analysis. Environmental Science and Pollution Research,25(16), 15541–15553. Scholar
  59. Mongeon, P., & Paul-Hus, A. (2016). The journal coverage of Web of Science and Scopus: A comparative analysis. Scientometrics,106(1), 213–228. Scholar
  60. Narin, F. (1976). Evaluative bibliometrics: The use of publication and citation analysis in the evaluation of scientific activity. Cherry Hill, NJ: Computer Horizons Inc.Google Scholar
  61. Nemeroff, C. B. (2016). Paradise lost: The neurobiological and clinical consequences of child abuse and neglect. Neuron,89(5), 892–909. Scholar
  62. Pereda, N., Guilera, G., Forns, M., & Gómez-Benito, J. (2009). The prevalence of child sexual abuse in community and student samples: A meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review,29(4), 328–338. Scholar
  63. Popović, S. (2018a). Child sexual abuse in Croatia: A systematic review of research. Ljetopis Socijalnog Rada,25(1), 5–37. Scholar
  64. Popović, S. (2018b). Child sexual abuse news: A systematic review of content analysis studies. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse,27(7), 752–777. Scholar
  65. Pouris, A., & Ho, Y. S. (2016). A bibliometric analysis of research on Ebola in Science Citation Index Expanded. South African Journal of Science,112(3–4), 83–88. Scholar
  66. Pritchard, J. (1969). Statistical bibliography or bibliometrics? Journal of Documentation,25(4), 348–349.Google Scholar
  67. Putnam, F. W. (2003). Ten-year research update review: Child sexual abuse. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,42(3), 269–278. Scholar
  68. Reading, R., Bissell, S., Goldhagen, J., Harwin, J., Masson, J., Moynihan, S., et al. (2009). Child maltreatment 4: Promotion of children’s rights and prevention of child maltreatment. Lancet,373(9660), 332–343. Scholar
  69. Rehn, B., Lidström, J., Skoglund, J., & Lindström, B. (2007). Effects on leg muscular performance from whole-body vibration exercise: A systematic review. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports,17(1), 2–11. Scholar
  70. Roche, D. N., Runtz, M. G., & Hunter, M. A. (1999). Adult attachment: A mediator between child sexual abuse and later psychological adjustment. Journal of Interpersonal Violence,14(2), 184–207. Scholar
  71. Seto, M. C., Babchishin, K. M., Pullman, L. E., & McPhail, I. V. (2015). The puzzle of intrafamilial child sexual abuse: A meta-analysis comparing intrafamilial and extrafamilial offenders with child victims. Clinical Psychology Review,39, 42–57. Scholar
  72. Singh, M. M., Parsekar, S. S., & Nair, S. N. (2014). An epidemiological overview of child sexual abuse. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care,3(4), 430–435. Scholar
  73. Smart, C. (1999). A history of ambivalence and conflict in the discursive construction of the ‘child victim’ of sexual abuse. Social & Legal Studies,8(3), 391–409. Scholar
  74. Stoltenborgh, M., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., Alink, L. R. A., & van IJzendoorn, M. H. (2015). The prevalence of child maltreatment across the globe: Review of a series of meta-analyses. Child Abuse Review,24(1), 37–50. Scholar
  75. Stoltenborgh, M., van Ijzendoorn, M. H., Euser, E. M., & Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J. (2011). A global perspective on child sexual abuse: Meta-analysis of prevalence around the world. Child Maltreatment,16(2), 79–101. Scholar
  76. Tanaka, M., Suzuki, Y. E., Aoyama, I., Takaoka, K., & MacMillan, H. L. (2017). Child sexual abuse in Japan: A systematic review and future directions. Child Abuse and Neglect,66, 31–40. Scholar
  77. Tardieu, A. (1959). Étude médico-légale sur les attentats aux moeurs. Paris: J.B. Baillière.Google Scholar
  78. Teicher, M. H., & Samson, J. A. (2016). Annual research review: Enduring neurobiological effects of childhood abuse and neglect. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry,57(3), 241–266. Scholar
  79. Tran, B. X., Pham, T. V., Ha, G. H., Ngo, A. T., Nguyen, L. H., Vu, T. T. M., et al. (2018). A bibliometric analysis of the global research trend in child maltreatment. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health,15(7), 1456. Scholar
  80. United Nations (2015). UNESCO Science Report. Toward 2030. Paris.Google Scholar
  81. Veenema, T. G., Thornton, C. P., & Corley, A. (2015). The public health crisis of child sexual abuse in low and middle income countries: An integrative review of the literature. International Journal of Nursing Studies,52(4), 864–881. Scholar
  82. Vega-Arce, M., & Núñez-Ulloa, G. (2018). Adverse childhood experiences: Bibliometric mapping of the scientific literature in the Web of Science. Revista Cubana de Información en Ciencias de la Salud,29(1), 25–40.Google Scholar
  83. Walsh, K., Zwi, K., Woolfenden, S., & Shlonsky, A. (2018). School-based education programs for the prevention of child sexual abuse: A cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis. Research on Social Work Practice,28(1S), 33–55. Scholar
  84. Wang, M. H., Fu, H. Z., & Ho, Y. S. (2011). Comparison of universities’ scientific performance using bibliometric indicators. Malaysian Journal of Library & Information Science,16(2), 1–19.Google Scholar
  85. Wang, C. C., & Ho, Y. S. (2016). Research trend of metal-organic frameworks: A bibliometric analysis. Scientometrics,109(1), 481–513. Scholar
  86. Whittier, N. (2009). The politics of child sexual abuse. Emotion, social movements, and the state. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. World Health Organization (2011). Adverse Childhood Experiences International Questionnaire Pilot study review and finalization meeting, 4–5 May 2011, Geneva Meeting Report, WHO Headquarters, Geneva.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de PsicologíaUniversidad Católica del MauleTalcaChile
  2. 2.Escuela de FonoaudiologíaUniversidad Autónoma de ChileTalcaChile
  3. 3.Escuela de Psicología y FilosofíaUniversidad de TarapacáAricaChile
  4. 4.Carlos Albizu UniversitySan JuanPuerto Rico
  5. 5.Trend Research CentreAsia UniversityWufengTaiwan

Personalised recommendations