Military sexual assault (MSA) among veterans in Southern California: Associations with physical health, psychological health, and risk behaviors

Ashley C. Schuyler*, Sara Kintzle, Carrie L. Lucas, Hadass Moore, Carl A. Castro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study describes the relationship between military sexual assault (MSA) and various health and behavioral outcomes among a community-based sample of male (n < 2,208) and female (n < 327) veterans. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to assess the relationship of MSA with physical health symptoms (PHQ-15), probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; PCL) and depression (PHQ- 9), risk-taking behaviors, and alcohol use (AUDIT-C) among men and women. Among the sample, 4.8% of male and 40.6% of female veterans reported experiencing MSA. Men who experienced MSA had approximately 4 times the odds of physical health symptoms, and probable PTSD and depression, compared with those without MSA (p < .001 for all). Male veterans also had significantly increased odds of taking unnecessary health risks (p < .001), risking a sexually transmitted disease (STD; p < .005), driving while intoxicated (p < .022), taking unnecessary life risks (p < .001), and using tobacco (p < .012) in the last year if they had experienced MSA. Women who experienced MSA had approximately double the odds of physical health symptoms (p =.002), 3 times the odds of depressive symptoms (p < .001), and almost 7 times the odds of probable PTSD (p < .001). Female veterans with MSA also had significantly greater odds of taking unnecessary health risks (p =.003), taking unnecessary life risks (p = .001), and using tobacco (p = .003) in the last year than those without MSA. These findings highlight the unique treatment needs of male and female victims of MSA, the potential long-term impact of MSA, and the need for timely assessment of MSA to help mitigate negative health outcomes among veterans.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)223-234
Number of pages12
JournalTraumatology
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Psychological Association.

Keywords

  • Behavioral health
  • Military sexual trauma (MST)
  • Sexual assault
  • Veterans

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