The mental health and social implications of non-consensual sharing of intimate images on youth: A systematic review

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In the past decade, the sending and sharing of sexual images amongst youth has become normalised. An associated risk of sharing sexual images is the images being non-consensually shared amongst peers or uploaded online. This is the first review to systematically identify, summarise and critically evaluate existing research on the mental health and social impact of non-consensual sharing of sexual images (NCSSI) on youth. Database (MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, Embase, PubMed, Web of Science, SCOPUS) and manual searches were conducted to identify eligible studies. A narrative synthesis and a Mixed- Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT) was used for quality analysis. Of 4,013 articles retrieved, 13 met the eligibility criteria. The findings suggest that NCSSI is associated with negative mental health and social repercussions. Five quantitative studies found evidence suggestive of increased depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation in young people following NCSSI. The identified qualitative evidence highlighted a range of adverse impacts in the social lives of those affected, including associated bullying, harassment and victim-blaming attitudes that many individuals face following an experience of NCSSI, which may contribute to a negative sense of self and exacerbate distress. Some of the identified studies used unvalidated tools to assess mental health outcomes, and mainly measured depression and anxiety. Most studies more broadly discussed the sharing of sexual images rather than NCSSI specifically. Future research should adopt a narrow focus on the impact of NCSSI and use validated tools to measure various mental health outcomes.. Given the limitations, the findings should be interpreted with caution.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 11 Oct 2023


  • sharing intimate images
  • youth
  • impact


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