Investigation of post-traumatic stress symptoms and physical health status in sexual assault survivors




Eadie, Erin MacKenzie

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This study investigated links between sexual assault experiences, posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), and adverse physical health outcomes among adult women. Existing models in which posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) mediate the relationship between trauma exposure and physical health outcomes have been established within a variety of trauma populations, but had yet to be specifically tested with the trauma of sexual assault. Through the use of structural equation modelling (SENT), support was found for a model in which posttraumatic stress symptom (PTSS) severity partially mediates the association between sexual assault exposure and physical health problems. While PTSS severity served as a partial mediator, it was revealed that depression symptoms did not A multivariate multiple regression was conducted to test whether the three PTSD symptom clusters (i.e., reexperiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal symptoms) were differentially related to physical health outcomes, but it was found that no single symptom cluster explained the association between PTSD and adverse physical health outcomes. It was revealed, however. that reexperiencing symptoms and avoidance symptoms had unique associations with health care utilization and health perceptions, respectively. Finally. A unique relationship between sexual assault exposure and reproductive and sexual health problems was revealed, suggesting that this is a particularly important area of health concern among sexual assault survivors.



rape victims, post-traumatic stress disorder