Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Objective: The purpose of the present study is to expand existing literature on risk factors that are associated with poorer physical health outcomes following incidents of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) to include both Military Sexual Harassment and Military Sexual Assault in members of the United States National Guard and Reserve.
Method: The current study used archival data collected by a research team at the Veteran Affairs Boston Healthcare System in order to identify potential factors such as gender, social support, immediate medical treatment, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and Depression. Moderation and mediation analyses were performed to examine the association between experiences of Military Sexual Trauma and subsequent somatic symptoms.
Results: Analysis showed significantly more severe somatic symptoms in those who had experienced Military Sexual Assault compared to Military Sexual Harassment. Gender, social support, and immediate medical treatment did not moderate the relationship between Military Sexual Trauma and somatic symptoms. Further analysis showed that PTSD symptoms and depressive symptoms positively predicted greater somatic symptoms in those who had experienced both Military Sexual Assault and Military Sexual Harassment.
Conclusion: While gender, social support, and immediate medical treatment did not influence the relationship between experienced sexual trauma and somatic symptoms, the causal relationship between PTSD symptoms and depressive symptoms following experienced sexual trauma positively predicted more severe somatic symptoms. Further studies focused on examining the specific influence of PTSD symptoms on somatic outcomes following various experiences of Military Sexual Trauma would allow for greater understanding of potential treatment outcomes.
McMahon, Chelsea J., "Risk Factors Associated with Somatic Symptoms following Military Sexual Trauma in Members of the National Guard and Reserves" (2020). USC Aiken Psychology Theses. 49.