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Mengeling M, Sadler AG, Torner J, Booth B. Type of Traumatic Exposure and the Effect on Women Veteran's Health Outcomes. Paper presented at: International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies Annual Meeting; 2009 Nov 7; Atlanta, GA.
This study investigated differences in women veteran's physical and mental health outcomes by type of trauma exposure (military, life events, and sexual assault). The retrospective study (1004 women; mean 38 years) found 29% had served in military combat, 75% experienced the sudden death of a close friend or relative, and 51% reported one or more lifetime rapes (32% experienced Military Sexual Trauma (MST)). Women experiencing MST were significantly more likely to report childhood rape (41% vs 26%) and rape following military service (18% vs 8%). Sexual assault was most often identified as the greatest traumatic event. There was no significant difference in physical or mental health scores (SF12) for those who had experienced at least one military trauma or life events trauma. Women experiencing a sexual trauma were more likely to be depressed (CIDI-SF) (39% vs 16%, p < .0001) or to have a PTSD (PSS-I) diagnosis (35% vs 11%) compared to their non-assaulted peers. Twenty-two percent of those experiencing a sexual trauma were diagnosed with both PTSD and depression. Sexual assault is associated with greater rates of PTSD and depression than rates associated with combat or traumatic life events.