Posttraumatic sequelae associated with military sexual trauma in female veterans enrolled in VA outpatient mental health clinics

J Trauma Dissociation. 2011;12(3):261-74. doi: 10.1080/15299732.2011.551504.


The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between military sexual assault (MSA) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other symptoms associated with trauma, referred to as disorders of extreme stress not otherwise specified (DESNOS) or complex PTSD within a Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center outpatient mental health treatment-seeking sample. The present results focus on female Veterans only because of the low rates of endorsement of MSA among male Veterans resulting in a sample too small to use in analyses. Compared with those who did not endorse MSA, those who did reported greater frequency of other potentially traumatic events; PTSD symptoms; and symptoms characteristic of DESNOS, such as difficulties with interpersonal relationships, emotion regulation, dissociation, somatization, and self-perception. When childhood and other adulthood interpersonal trauma were both taken into account, MSA continued to contribute unique variance in predicting PTSD and DESNOS symptoms. VA patients reporting MSA may represent notably heterogeneous groups that include more complex posttraumatic reactions. Treatment interventions focused on complex PTSD may be warranted for a subset of female veterans who endorse MSA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Dissociative Disorders / diagnosis
  • Dissociative Disorders / epidemiology
  • Dissociative Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept
  • Sex Factors
  • Sex Offenses / psychology*
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatoform Disorders / epidemiology
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Traumatic / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs*