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Correlates and clinical associations of military sexual assault in Gulf War era U.S. veterans: Findings from a national sample.

Patel TA, Mann AJ, Nomamiukor FO, Blakey SM, Calhoun PS, Beckham JC, Pugh MJ, Kimbrel NA. Correlates and clinical associations of military sexual assault in Gulf War era U.S. veterans: Findings from a national sample. Journal of traumatic stress. 2022 Aug 1; 35(4):1240-1251.

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Military sexual assault (MSA) is a prevalent issue among military personnel that can have direct implications on postmilitary mental health. Gulf War era U.S. veterans represent the first cohort in which women veterans were integrated into most aspects of military service except for combat. The present study sought to build on prior studies by identifying characteristics associated with the occurrence of MSA and clinical correlates of MSA and examining how these differ between men and women. This study analyzed cross-sectional survey data from a national sample of treatment-seeking Gulf War era veterans. Participants (N = 1,153) reported demographic information, clinical outcomes, military background, and history of MSA. MSA was more common among female veterans (n = 100, 41.3%) than male veterans (n = 32, 3.6%). The odds of experiencing MSA were approximately 19 times higher for female veterans relative to their male peers, OR = 18.92, p < .001. Moreover, as expected, MSA was robustly associated with probable current posttraumatic stress disorder, probable current depression, and past-year suicidal ideation in female veterans, whereas combat exposure was robustly associated with these sequelae in male veterans. The present findings confirm that a large proportion of female veterans from the Gulf War era experienced MSA and highlight the deleterious correlates of MSA on veterans'' mental health. Sex differences of correlates of MSA and subsequent clinical associations are highlighted.

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