Eating Disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress and Sexual Trauma in Women Veterans


This study looks at the relationship between eating disorders (EDOs), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sexual trauma in female veterans. It examines factors connecting these disorders and traumas across the various stages of the life course, therefore taking into consideration what has happened across the life course that continues to have an affect on health in the present.


We examine lifetime eating disorders (EDOs), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sexual trauma during various stages of the life course (childhood, during military service, and lifetime) among women veterans. The sample included 1,004 women aged 20 to 52 years who had enrolled at 2 Midwestern Veterans Affairs Medical Centers or outlying clinics and completed a retrospective telephone interview. Over 16% reported a lifetime EDO (4.7% had received a diagnosis, and an additional 11.5% self-reported suffering from an EDO). Associations were found between lifetime EDO, PTSD, and sexual trauma. Relationships maintained significance for both diagnosed and self-reported EDOs as well as lifetime completed rape and attempted sexual assaults. Sexual trauma during military service was more strongly associated with lifetime EDOs than childhood sexual trauma. The significant associations found between EDOs, PTSD, and sexual trauma indicate that EDO screening among women veterans with PTSD or histories of sexual trauma may be warranted.

Full Reference

Valerie L. Forman-Hoffman, Michelle Mengeling, Brenda M. Booth, James Torner, Anne G. Sadler, 2012, Military Medicine, Eating Disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress, and Sexual Trauma in Women Veterans, 177, 10, 1161-1168.