HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Functional Correlates of Military Sexual Assault in Male Veterans

Article

This research explores the prevalence of military sexual trauma (MST) in male veterans. It specifically looks at MST amongst male Iraq-Afghanistan-era veterans and seeks to identify health care needs for this population.

Abstract

Despite research findings that similar numbers of male and female veterans are affected by military sexual trauma (MST), there has been considerably less research on the effects of MST specific to male veterans. The aim of the present study was to provide preliminary data describing functional correlates of military sexual assault (MSA) among male Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans to identify potential health care needs for this population. We evaluated the following functional correlates: posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, depression symptoms, alcohol use, drug use, suicidality, social support, violent behavior in the past 30 days, incarceration, disability eligibility status and use of outpatient mental health treatment. We compared 3 groups: (a) male veterans who endorsed a history of MSA (n = 39), (b) a general non-MSA sample (n = 2,003), and (c) a matched non-MSA sample (n = 39) identified by matching algorithms on the basis of factors (e.g., age, education, adult premilitary sexual trauma history, childhood sexual and physical trauma history, and race) that could increase veterans' vulnerability to the functional correlates examined. MSA in men was associated with greater PTSD symptom severity, greater depression symptom severity, higher suicidality, and higher outpatient mental health treatment, above and beyond the effects of vulnerability factors. These findings suggest that, for male veterans, MSA may result in a severe and enduring overall symptom profile requiring ongoing clinical management.

Full Reference

Schry, Amie R., Hibberd, Rachel, Wagner, H. Ryan, Turchik, Jessica A., Kimbrel, Nathan A., Wong, Madrianne, Elbogen, Eric E., Strauss, Jennifer L., Brancu, Mira. Psychological Services, Vol 12(4), Nov 2015, 384-393.