Sexual assault, mental health, and service use among male and female veterans seen in Veterans Affairs primary care clinics: a multi-site study.Psychiatry Res. 2008 May 30; 159(1-2):226-36.PR
This study examined the nature and prevalence of sexual assault (SA), as well as its relationship to psychiatric sequelae and service use, among the veteran population. We performed a secondary data analysis of a cross-sectional dataset consisting of 643 male and 173 female veterans seen in four Veterans Affairs (VA) primary care clinics. Original data were obtained through semi-structured clinic assessments, structured telephone interviews, and medical chart reviews. Analyses included descriptive statistics, chi-square, analysis of variance (ANOVA), and logistic regression. The lifetime prevalence of SA was 38% among women and 6% among men. Of veterans reporting a history of SA, most experienced child sexual abuse and sexual revictimization. SA victims also had a more extensive trauma history and demonstrated greater psychological impairment in comparison to veterans reporting other types of trauma. However, only 25% of male SA survivors and 38% of female SA survivors used mental health services in the past year. These findings suggest that VA primary care clinics may benefit from expanding the current mandated screen for military sexual trauma to include lifetime experiences and trauma-related symptoms, thereby connecting more veterans with needed mental health services.