American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting

American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting

May 06, 2018
2 min read

PTSD linked to history of military sexual trauma in women

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Gen Shinozaki

NEW YORK — Although major depressive disorder and PTSD were significantly associated with military trauma among both men and women, PTSD was specifically associated with history of military sexual trauma especially among women, according to a poster that will be presented here on Monday.

“When I was working at [the] VA hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, I first learned about [military sexual trauma], as I have never heard of it when I did residency at Mayo Clinic after moving from Japan. I was shocked to realize that our service members are assaulted by fellow service members during their service,” Gen Shinozaki, MD, associate professor, department of psychiatry, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, told Healio Psychiatry.

“I think it is very important to make the public aware of this disturbing reality so that we can change the situation,” he continued. “That is why I tried to show that [military sexual trauma] has long-term consequences, both mentally and physically, and not a one-time incident, leading to significant burden for the victims.”

To examine the associations between military sexual trauma and MDD, PTSD and other medical conditions such as diabetes, fibromyalgia, fatigue or chronic pain, researchers recruited 201 male and 187 female military personnel through a study conducted at the Iowa City Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center. They conducted computer-assisted interviews via telephone to assess participants using the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5), CES Depression scale and Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Questionnaire, and compiled data on military deployment, combat experience, history of sexual trauma experienced in the military and other types of military and civilian trauma.

In total, five men and 58 women experienced attempted or completed sexual assault during their military service. According to Shinozaki, that translates to 31% of female service members. Analysis showed MDD was significantly associated with history of military trauma and adverse childhood experience after controlling for military sexual trauma in both gender groups. After adjusting for covariates, PTSD also showed significant association with history of military sexual trauma, military trauma and adverse childhood experience among women, while only military trauma was significant among men.

Specifically, 32.8% of the women who experienced military sexual trauma reported PTSD compared with 7% of the women who did not experience this trauma (chi square = 18.914, P = 1.37 x 10-5). In addition, military sexual trauma was significantly linked with MDD (chi square = 4.52; P = .03), and medical comorbidities, including diabetes, fibromyalgia, fatigue and pain (chi square = 8.46; P = .0036) among women.

“[Military sexual trauma] is so prevalent in our military service, we need to be aware of the significant consequences of it, and government needs to take an action to change the situation,” Shinozaki told Healio Psychiatry. “Clinicians taking care of veterans should be aware of this issue and should pay attention to find root cause of their patients’ symptoms in PTSD and even medical conditions, such as diabetes, pain and fatigue.” – by Savannah Demko


Shinozaki G, et al. Poster #207. Presented at: American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting; May 5-9, 20178; New York.

Disclosures: Shinozaki reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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