Alcohol use, military sexual trauma, expectancies, and coping skills in women veterans presenting to primary care


This  research examines the relationship between alcohol use, PTSD symptoms, self-reported diagnosis of depression, coping strategies and alcohol expectancies, in a sample of women veterans. This research further investigates the relationship between these variables and the experience of military sexual trauma.


Little is known regarding alcohol use and its correlates in women veterans. An understanding of these variables is of utility to providers in primary care at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals, who are among the first to identify and intervene for problem drinking. The objective of this study was to describe and explore the associations between posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, experience of military sexual trauma (MST), expectancies for alcohol use, and coping skills in predicting drinking behavior. Each month all women veterans attending appointments in primary care were mailed a letter alerting them to the study. Women then received a call asking them to participate and many were directly recruited at their primary care appointment. Participants then completed a survey of current alcohol use and related variables in a private room. Participants were 93 women veterans seeking care at VA. Measures included the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, a modified version of the VA MST screen, the Davidson Trauma Scale; the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations, and the Brief Comprehensive Effects of Alcohol Questionnaire. Positive expectancies and evaluations emerged as significant correlates of AUDIT scores, while PTSD symptoms were not related to AUDIT scores. A hierarchical regression revealed a significant positive interaction between avoidance coping and positive evaluations. Depression, positive evaluations and avoidance coping were significant independent predictors of AUDIT scores in the final model, but MST was not. Findings highlight the importance of considering the function of alcohol use when delivering clinical interventions and the need for further research on the association between MST and drinking in women veterans.

Full Reference

Creech, S.K. and Borsari, B., 2014. Alcohol use, military sexual trauma, expectancies, and coping skills in women veterans presenting to primary care. Addictive behaviors, 39(2), pp. 379-385.