Posttraumatic stress symptomatology as a mediator of the association between military sexual trauma and post-deployment physical health in women.J Trauma Dissociation. 2011; 12(3):275-89.JT
This study examined posttraumatic stress symptomatology (PSS) as a mediator of the association between military sexual trauma and post-deployment physical health. Relationships were examined in a sample of 83 female veterans of the first Gulf War (1990-1991) approximately 10 years post-deployment. Participants reported on the frequency of sexual harassment and sexual assault experienced during deployment. Physical health was measured using participants' self-reports of pre-deployment and post-deployment symptoms within 7 body systems. Sexual harassment exposure was not found to be associated with PSS-mediated associations with physical health symptoms. However, sexual assault during deployment was found to be associated with PSS and 4 of the 7 health symptom clusters assessed: gastrointestinal, genitourinary, musculoskeletal, and neurological symptoms. Furthermore, PSS was found to be a significant mediator of the sexual assault-physical health relationship in each of these domains, with the indirect path accounting for 74% to 100% of the relationship. The findings from the current study indicate that sexual assault has detrimental associations with physical health and that PSS plays a primary role in that relationship.