Syrop CH (Carver College of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology), Sadler AG
(Center for Research in the Implementation of Innovative Strategies in Practice (CRIISP), Iowa City VAMC), Mengeling MA
(CRIISP, Iowa City VAMC), Booth BM
(Center for Mental Healthcare Outcomes and Research, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System and University of Arkansas), Torner JC
(Iowa City VAMC and Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa)
To determine the impact of sexual assault on women’s childbearing decisions.
800 women participated in a cross-sectional study of current health and health care utilization of women with and without lifetime sexual assault (LSA) exposure. Consenting women veterans seeking care from the Iowa City VAMC and clinics within the preceding 5 years ( < 52 years of age) completed a computer-assisted telephone interview assessing socio-demographic variables, rape exposures, gynecologic diagnoses, procedures and care utilization, and health status.
The average age of subjects is 39yr (sd = 8.4). LSA (attempted and completed) was reported by 63% (n = 507) of participants, of which 48% (n = 243) acknowledged assault during military service. Of women with LSA, 20% reported that they decided to delay and 10% to forgo childbearing as a direct result of their victimization. Women with LSA more frequently acknowledged a termination of pregnancy (30% vs 20%, P < .01).
The frequency of lifetime sexual assault (LSA) is high in this population, and 30% of victimized women delay or forgo childbearing as a direct result of their victimization. Termination of pregnancy is reported more frequently in women with LSA.
The recognition that LSA impacts childbearing decisions has direct implications for the mental and reproductive healthcare needs of a priority VAMC population. Findings indicate the need for further population-based research.