Sexual Assault History and Health-Related Outcomes in a National Sample of Women

Authors


  • Sarah E. Ullman, Department of Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago; Leanne R. Brecklin, Department of Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago. Leanne Brecklin is now at University of Illinois at Springfield.

  • We thank the Associate Editor, Antonia Abbey, and several anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback on this manuscript. We gratefully acknowledge support from the University of Illinois at Chicago Campus Research Board. The NCS is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (Grants R01 MH/DA46376 and R01 MH49098), the National Institute of Drug Abuse (through a supplement to R01 MH/DA46376) and the W.T. Grant Foundation (Grant 90135190).

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Sarah E. Ullman, Department of Criminal Justice (M/C 141), University of Illinois at Chicago, 1007 West Harrison Street, Chicago, IL 60607-7140. E-mail: seullman@uic.edu

Abstract

This study examined correlates of past-year chronic medical conditions and lifetime contact with health care professionals for mental health and substance abuse problems in women with differing histories of sexual victimization (N = 627) identified from the National Comorbidity Survey (e.g., assault in childhood, adulthood, or both life phases). Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and stressful life events were associated with greater odds of chronic medical conditions among women sexually assaulted in childhood only. Additional traumatic events were associated with greater odds of chronic medical conditions among victims of adult sexual assault. Older age and being married were associated with greater odds of lifetime health care professional contact for mental health/substance abuse issues among certain victim subgroups. Stressful life events were related to greater help-seeking for child victims, and traumatic events were related to greater help-seeking in adult victims. Alcohol dependence symptoms and PTSD were each associated with greater odds of lifetime health care professional contact among women victimized in both life phases, whereas depression was related to greater odds of help-seeking for women victimized in one life phase only. Psychosocial factors may play unique roles in health outcomes for women with different sexual assault histories.

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