PTSD severity and health perceptions in female victims of sexual assault



In women with chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), poor physical health may be related to their PTSD symptoms through an underlying negative affect or distress that accompanies the disorder, through the PTSD symptoms in general, or specifically through the chronic hyperarousal present in the disorder. The current study examined the relative contribution of these factors to reported physical symptoms in female victims of sexual assault. Seventy-six women with chronic PTSD were assessed, using measures of stressful life events, psychological difficulties, and perceived health. Negative life events, anger, depression, and PTSD severity were all related to self-reported physical symptoms; however, PTSD severity predicted self-reported physical symptoms beyond these other variables. Contrary to our hypothesis, the reexperiencing cluster of PTSD, and not the hyperarousal cluster, was related to self-reported physical symptoms.