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RCIQ - Response to Childhood Incest Questionnaire

The RCIQ was developed to measure PTSD symptomatology and cognitive and affective stress response themes in female adult survivors of childhood incest. The majority of items are worded to refer specifically to the incest or sexual abuse. The measure yields scores on 7 stress response factors: 1) Vulnerability and Isolation, 2) Fear and Anxiety, 3) Guilt and Shame, 4) Anger and Betrayal, 5) Reaction to Perpetrator, 6) Sadness and Loss, and 7) Powerlessness. The measure also yields scores on 4 PTSD-related factors: 1) Intrusive Thoughts, 2) Intrusive Behavior and Emotion, 3) Detachment, and 4) Emotional Control and Numbness.




Donaldson, M

Donaldson, M.(1983). Incest years after responses to chidhood incest: A tool for self assessment. Unpublished measure.

Contact Information: 

(701) 234-3200 

Domain Assessed: 
Traumatic Stress
Psychosocial Functioning
Age Range: 
Measure Type: 
General Assessment
Measure Format: 


Number of Items: 
Average Time to Complete (min): 
Reporter Type: 
Average Time to Score (min): 
Response Format: 

6-point scale: 0=does not apply, 1=never, 2=hardly ever, 3= half of the time or more, 4=often, 5=always

Materials Needed: 
Sample Items: 
DomainsScaleSample Items
Stress-Response ThemesVulnerability and isolationI feel vulnerable in personal relationships with women (girls).
Fear and anxiety I get frightened that I will "go crazy."
Guilt and shame I feel guilty that I didn't do something to stop the incest.
Anger and betrayalI feel angry that someone didn't help me sooner regarding the incest.
Reaction to perpetratorI feel so angry about the incest I would like to hurt the one who abused me.
Sadness and lossI feel sad that my family life wasn't what I wanted it to be.
Powerlessness I feel vulnerable in my job (school).
Information Provided: 
Areas of Concern/Risks
Continuous Assessment
Diagnostic Info DSM III
Raw Scores


Training to Administer: 

Parallel or Alternate Forms

Parallel Forms: 
Alternate Forms: 
Different Age Forms: 
Altered Version Forms: 


Clinical Cutoffs: 
References for Reliability: 

From Test User Information: TEST-RETEST Assessed with 55 adult female victims of childhood incest. The authors comment that the measure assesses symptoms that are stable but that would decrease with treatment and increase in response to situational cues that might serve as trauma reminders. All study details are not provided, including test-retest timeframe. In addition, it appears that at least part of the sample received treatment during the test-retest period. Total number of symptoms (.65) STRESS REPONSE THEMES (r values) Avg. freq of stress items (.84) Vulnerability (.83) Fear and Anxiety (.77) Guilt and Shame (.74) Anger and Betrayal (.66) Reaction to the Perpetrator (.85) Sadness and Loss (.77) Powerlessness (.29) PTSD FACTORS (r values) Average freq of PTSD items (.88) Intrusive Thoughts (.81) Intrusive Behaviors and Emotions (.76) Detachment (.84) Emotional Control and Numbness (.58) INTERNAL CONSISTENCY No data were provided.

Content Validity Evaluated: 
References for Content Validity: 

From Test User Information: Two questionnaires were originally developed, one focusing on general life issues (Self- Esteem, Trust, and Body Image) and the other focusing on symptoms specific to incest (Flashbacks, Anger, and Guilt). Twenty-six clients read the items and indicated how frequently they experienced the symptoms. Items were deleted if they were applicable to less than 40% of the respondents. New itemswere generated related to the DSM-III PTSD criteria and using the paradigm reported by Krupnick & Horowitz (1981), which includes five stress response themes evoked by trauma: 1) Fear and Anxiety, 2) Anger and Frustration, 3) Guilt and Remorse, 4) Shame and Self-Disgust, and 5) Sadness and Pining. In developing the measure, the author began with 45 items. He dropped items if less than 40% of participants (female incest survivors) reported experiencing the item. He then added 18 items based on Krupnick & Horowitz (1981) stress-response themes and 19 items based on the DSM-III PTSD criteria.

Construct Validity Evaluated: 
Construct Validity: 
Validity TypeNot knownNot foundNonclincal SamplesClinical SamplesDiverse Samples
Sensitive to ChangeYes
Intervention EffectsYes
Longitudinal/Maturation EffectsYes
Sensitive to Theoretically Distinct GroupsYes
Factorial ValidityYes
References for Construct Validity: 

RCIQ scales correlate with the inwardly directed anger scale of the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory (Scott & Day, 1996), the Beck Depression Inventory, and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Test User Information Manual) to a moderate degree, providing evidence of convergent and discriminant validity. Gold & Cardeña (1988) examined the convergent validity of the RCIQ in relation to the Mississippi Scale for Combat-Related PTSD (CM-PTSD) and the Trauma Symptom Checklist-40 (TSC-40). All three inventories showed moderate correlations, supporting their convergent validity. In addition, in this study, 33% of participants were men, and means and SD were equivalent to what has been found in studies involving all women. The authors reported that these data are supportive of the validity of the instrument with men. Following treatment, women showed declines in Self-Blame and PTSD symptoms as accessed by the RCIQ (Morgan & Cummings, 1999). The Test User Information Manual reports on a sample of 179 women who received group treatment for childhood incest. They found that after 4-9 months of treatment the number of symptoms did not decrease, but the frequency of RCIQ scores did. Edwards & Donaldson (1989) report the results of a factor analysis of 104 female incest victims ranging in age from 17-54 (see "Population Used to Develop Measure"). Factor analysis on the first 35 items of the scale yielded 7 stress-response theme factors, accounting for 61.2% of the variance: 1) Vulnerability and Isolation, 2) Fear and Anxiety, 3) Guilt and Shame, 4) Anger and Betrayal, 5) Reaction to the Abuser, 6) Sadness and Loss, and 7) Powerlessness. Factor analysis of the DSM-III symptoms (the last 17 items of the scale) yielded 4 factors, accounting for 57.9% of the variance: 1) Intrusive Thoughts, 2) Avoidance and Intrusive Emotions, 3) Detachment, and 4) Emotional Control and Numbness.

Criterion Validity Evaluated: 
Criterion Validity: 
Not KnownNot FoundNonclinical SamplesClinical SamplesDiverse Samples
Predictive Validity:
Postdictive Validity:
Overall Psychometric Limitations: 

Psychometric studies have predominantly involved White participants.


Translation Quality: 

Population Information

Population Used for Measure Development: 

The original pilot study had 26 clients. Questions were deleted if applicable to less than 40% of the 26 respondents. New questions were added and factor analysis was done on 106 adult women aged 17-54 who experienced childhood incest. Marital status: 28.8% married, 21.2% divorced, 43.3% single. Education: 76.9% had a high school education and 15.4% had attended college. Income: 34% received "some sort of income assistance"; 59.2% stable middle- or low-income category. No information regarding race or ethnicity was provided. The average age at which incest began was 7.21 years (SD=3.19). The average age it ended was 12.27 years (SD=6.18), and the average duration was 5.07 years (SD=5.71).

Populations with which Measure Has Demonstrated Reliability and Validity: 
Sexual Abuse
Use with Diverse Populations: 
Population Type: 123456

Pros & Cons/References


1. The measure assesses PTSD symptomatology and important affective and cognitive reactions in response to incest, which may be important when treating this population. 2. The measure may be very useful clinically, as it would lead to the identification of key cognitions and emotional reactions that could be discussed in treatment. 3. Items tap difficulty in multiple areas of life, job, relationships, symptomatology. 4. The measure was developed for adults but could be used with older teenagers to identify response to childhood incest. 5. The measure is free and easily obtained.


1. There are few psychometric studies. 2. The lack of norms and cutoffs makes scores difficult to interpret. 3. PTSD items were based on the DSM-III and not the DSM-IV PTSD criteria. 4. The majority of the research appears to have been done with White women. More research is needed looking at its utility with different ethnic and cultural groups. 5. The wording of the items appears to include psychological jargon, which many individuals may have difficulty understanding (e.g., "intrusive thoughts," "detached and estranged").

Author Comments: 

The author read the final version of the review and had no additional comments.


A PsychInfo literature search (6/05) of "Responses to Childhood Incest" or "RCIQ" anywhere yielded 6 peer-reviewed journal articles that referenced the measure. These articles are cited below along with a chapter that was used for this review. 1. Donaldson, M.A., & Gardner, R. Diagnosis and treatment of traumatic stress among women after childhood incest. In: Trauma and Its Wake: The Study and Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, C.R. Figley (Ed.). Brunner/Mazel, New York (1985). 2. Edwards, P.W., & Donaldson, M.A. (1989). Assessment of symptoms in adult survivors of incest: A factor analytic study of responses to a childhood incest questionnaire. Child Abuse & Neglect, 13, 101-110. 3. Gold, Jeffrey W., & Cardeña, E. (1988). Convergent validity of three posttraumatic symptoms inventories among adult sexual abuse survivors. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 11(1), 173-180. 4. Morgan, T., & Cummings, A.L. (1999). Change experienced during group therapy by female survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, 67(1), 28-36. 5. Rodriguez, N., Van de Kemp, H., & Foy, D.W. (1998). Posttraumatic stress disorder in survivors of childhood sexual and physical abuse: A critical review of the empirical research. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 7(2), 17-45. 6. Scott, R.I., & Day, H.D. (1996). Association of abuse-related symptoms and style of anger expression for female survivors of childhood incest. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 11(2), 208-220. 7. Simpson, T.L., & Miller, W.R. (2002). Concomitance between childhood sexual and physical abuse and substance use problems: A review. Clinical Psychology Review, 22(1), 27-77. Other Related References 1. Krupnick, J.L, & Horowitz, M.J. (1981). Stress response syndromes. Recurrent themes. Archives of General Psychiatry, 38, 428-435.

Developer of Review: 
Chandra Ghosh Ippen, Ph.D Citation for Review: & Madhur Kulkarni, M.S.
Editor of Review: 
Chandra Ghosh Ippen, Ph.D.
Last Updated: 
Monday, January 20, 2014