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Early adult sexual assault and disordered eating: The mediating role of posttraumatic stress symptoms

Authors

  • Auberi Dubosc,

    1. Centre d'Etudes et de Recherche en Psychopathologie, Université Toulouse le Mirail, Toulouse, France
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  • Maud Capitaine,

    1. Centre d'Etudes et de Recherche en Psychopathologie, Université Toulouse le Mirail, Toulouse, France
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  • Debra L. Franko,

    1. Department of Counseling and Applied Educational Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
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  • Eric Bui,

    1. Laboratoire du Stress Traumatique-LST (EA 4560), Université de Toulouse, UPS, Toulouse, France
    2. Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
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  • Alain Brunet,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, McGill University and Douglas Mental Health University Institute, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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  • Henri Chabrol,

    1. Centre d'Etudes et de Recherche en Psychopathologie, Université Toulouse le Mirail, Toulouse, France
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  • Rachel F. Rodgers

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre d'Etudes et de Recherche en Psychopathologie, Université Toulouse le Mirail, Toulouse, France
    2. Department of Counseling and Applied Educational Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Université Toulouse-II le Mirail, 31058 Toulouse CEDEX 9, France.
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Abstract

Although adult sexual assault has been suggested to be a risk factor for disordered eating, little is known about the pathways leading to this disorder. This study aimed to examine the mediating effect of depressive symptoms and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in the relationship between sexual assault and disordered eating among female students. A sample of 296 French female students completed a questionnaire assessing experiences of sexual assault from age 15, PTSD symptoms, depressive symptoms, and disordered eating. Results revealed that PTSD symptoms fully mediated the effect of early adult sexual assault on disordered eating (B = 1.10, SE = 1.64), and depressive symptoms were a partial mediator of this relationship (B = 2.64, SE = 1.28). When examining both mediators simultaneously the relationship was fully mediated and neither variable emerged as a significantly stronger mediator. Our findings highlight the complex relationship between PTSD symptoms, depressive symptoms, and disordered eating following sexual assault. Further investigation into the temporal relationships between these variables would contribute to inform prevention interventions for disordered eating.

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