Psychological and physical health effects of sexual assaults and nonsexual traumas among male and female United States Army soldiers

Behav Med. 2000 Spring;26(1):23-33. doi: 10.1080/08964280009595750.


Lifetime trauma history was assessed in a health study of active duty United States Army soldiers. Five hundred fifty-five male and 573 female soldiers in the sample were asked whether they had ever experienced 14 different potentially traumatic experiences, including sexual assaults, violent stressors to self, and terrifying events that occurred to others and were secondarily traumatic through exposure by gaining information or as a witness to the event. Most soldiers had experienced multiple traumas, and premilitary exposure to events was much more common than exposure to events after entering the military. Global measures of current psychological distress and physical health symptoms were predicted by the lifetime number of sexual assaults and traumas to self. Social support from military unit leaders moderated the relationship between accumulated exposure to traumas and both health measures, whereas unit cohesion was directly associated with fewer mental health problems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ethnicity / psychology
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Offenses / ethnology
  • Sex Offenses / psychology
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Violence / ethnology
  • Violence / psychology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*