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The role of cumulative sexual trauma and difficulties identifying feelings in understanding female veterans' physical health outcomes.
Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2008 Mar-Apr; 30(2):162-70.GH

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To examine the role of alexithymia (difficulties identifying one's emotions) in understanding the link between PTSD symptoms and negative health outcomes in sexually victimized female veterans. We hypothesized that having experienced multiple types of sexual trauma across the lifespan, experiencing greater severity of PTSD symptoms, and reporting difficulties in identifying emotions would be associated with increased negative health outcomes.

METHOD

Anonymous cross-sectional survey of a convenience sample of 456 female veterans enrolled in a VA clinic within the prior year. Data collected included demographics, lifetime trauma exposure, psychological and medical symptoms, emotion recognition problems (alexithymia), health-risk behaviors, and health care utilization.

RESULTS

A total of 57.5% of participants reported a lifetime history of sexual trauma. After controlling for sexual trauma history, PTSD symptoms, and other well-established predictors of health care utilization in the VA medical system such as pre-disposing, enabling and need-based factors, hierarchical regression analyses showed that alexithymia independently explained unique variance in participants' physical health complaints and in their odds of reporting at least one outpatient urgent care visit in the past year.

CONCLUSIONS

These data suggest that emotion recognition problems may contribute to poorer health outcomes in sexually traumatized women veterans beyond what is explained by sexual trauma exposure, health risk behaviors and PTSD. Psychological interventions that enhance emotion identification skills for women who have experienced sexual trauma could improve health perceptions and reduce need for acute health care.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. melissa.polusny@va.govNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

18291298

Citation

Polusny, Melissa A., et al. "The Role of Cumulative Sexual Trauma and Difficulties Identifying Feelings in Understanding Female Veterans' Physical Health Outcomes." General Hospital Psychiatry, vol. 30, no. 2, 2008, pp. 162-70.
Polusny MA, Dickinson KA, Murdoch M, et al. The role of cumulative sexual trauma and difficulties identifying feelings in understanding female veterans' physical health outcomes. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2008;30(2):162-70.
Polusny, M. A., Dickinson, K. A., Murdoch, M., & Thuras, P. (2008). The role of cumulative sexual trauma and difficulties identifying feelings in understanding female veterans' physical health outcomes. General Hospital Psychiatry, 30(2), 162-70. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2007.11.006
Polusny MA, et al. The Role of Cumulative Sexual Trauma and Difficulties Identifying Feelings in Understanding Female Veterans' Physical Health Outcomes. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2008 Mar-Apr;30(2):162-70. PubMed PMID: 18291298.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - The role of cumulative sexual trauma and difficulties identifying feelings in understanding female veterans' physical health outcomes. AU - Polusny,Melissa A, AU - Dickinson,Kelly A, AU - Murdoch,Maureen, AU - Thuras,Paul, PY - 2007/02/14/received PY - 2007/11/23/revised PY - 2007/11/26/accepted PY - 2008/2/23/pubmed PY - 2008/5/3/medline PY - 2008/2/23/entrez SP - 162 EP - 70 JF - General hospital psychiatry JO - Gen Hosp Psychiatry VL - 30 IS - 2 N2 - OBJECTIVE: To examine the role of alexithymia (difficulties identifying one's emotions) in understanding the link between PTSD symptoms and negative health outcomes in sexually victimized female veterans. We hypothesized that having experienced multiple types of sexual trauma across the lifespan, experiencing greater severity of PTSD symptoms, and reporting difficulties in identifying emotions would be associated with increased negative health outcomes. METHOD: Anonymous cross-sectional survey of a convenience sample of 456 female veterans enrolled in a VA clinic within the prior year. Data collected included demographics, lifetime trauma exposure, psychological and medical symptoms, emotion recognition problems (alexithymia), health-risk behaviors, and health care utilization. RESULTS: A total of 57.5% of participants reported a lifetime history of sexual trauma. After controlling for sexual trauma history, PTSD symptoms, and other well-established predictors of health care utilization in the VA medical system such as pre-disposing, enabling and need-based factors, hierarchical regression analyses showed that alexithymia independently explained unique variance in participants' physical health complaints and in their odds of reporting at least one outpatient urgent care visit in the past year. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that emotion recognition problems may contribute to poorer health outcomes in sexually traumatized women veterans beyond what is explained by sexual trauma exposure, health risk behaviors and PTSD. Psychological interventions that enhance emotion identification skills for women who have experienced sexual trauma could improve health perceptions and reduce need for acute health care. SN - 0163-8343 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/18291298/The_role_of_cumulative_sexual_trauma_and_difficulties_identifying_feelings_in_understanding_female_veterans'_physical_health_outcomes_ L2 - https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0163-8343(07)00227-7 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -