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Perceived Stress Mediates the Association between Deployment Sexual Trauma and Nicotine Dependence in Women Veterans.

Gross GM, Colon R, Bastian LA, Hoff R. Perceived Stress Mediates the Association between Deployment Sexual Trauma and Nicotine Dependence in Women Veterans. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2020 May 1; 30(3):214-220.

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BACKGROUND: Rates of smoking and related health consequences are higher for women veterans as compared with their civilian counterparts, and trauma is a known risk factor associated with smoking. Military sexual trauma is prevalent among women veterans and associated with deleterious health outcomes, including tobacco use. However, research has not examined variables that may explain this association. The purpose of the present study was to examine the association between deployment sexual trauma (DST; military sexual trauma that occurs during deployment) and nicotine dependence, and whether perceived stress is a potential explanatory variable (i.e., mediator) in this relationship. METHODS: Cross-sectional associations and Hayes mediation models were examined using baseline interview data from the Survey of Experiences of Returning Veterans sample (352 recently returned women veterans). RESULTS: DST was associated with postdeployment nicotine dependence and greater perceived stress. Further, perceived stress was a significant mediator between DST and binary nicotine dependence (indirect effect [standard error] of DST on nicotine dependence through perceived stress, 0.04 [0.01]; 95% confidence interval, 0.01-0.07; odds ratio, 1.04; p  <  .01) when controlling for education. CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that perceived stress may be a clinical target for decreasing nicotine dependence among women veterans who have experienced DST.

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