HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Military Sexual Assault (MSA) Among Veterans in Southern California: Associations With Physical Health, Psychological Health, and Risk Behaviors

Article

This article explores the relationship between military sexual assault and various health and behavioural outcomes for veterans.

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 (PHQ9), 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.

Full Reference

Schuyler, A. C., Kintzle, S., Lucas, C. L., Moore, H., Castro, C. A., 2016. Military Sexual Assault (MSA) Among Veterans in Southern California: Associations With Physical Health, Psychological Health, and Risk Behaviors. Traumatology, 23(3).