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Biol Res Nurs. 2016 Jul;18(4):454-64. doi: 10.1177/1099800416638442. Epub 2016 Apr 11.

Allostatic Perspectives in Women Veterans With a History of Childhood Sexual Assault.

Author information

1
College of Nursing, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA mgroer@health.usf.edu.
2
Daniel K. Inouye Graduate School of Nursing, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD, USA.
3
Department of Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA.
4
College of Nursing, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Women veterans have increased reports of sexual victimization compared to women in general, including childhood sexual assault (CSA) before military service, increasing the risk of military sexual trauma. Findings from recent studies reveal negative health effects following a history of CSA. There is a strong relationship between CSA and revictimization in civilian and military life, which may contribute to allostatic load.

OBJECTIVES:

(1) To determine the relationship between women veterans' CSA history and later sexual assault history and (2) to determine the relationships between women veterans' CSA and primary mediators and secondary and tertiary outcomes of allostasis.

RESEARCH DESIGN:

Cross-sectional.

SUBJECTS:

Women (N = 81), 18-70 years old, veterans of the U.S. Armed Services.

MEASURES:

Participants completed questionnaires and blood and hair samples were collected. Several scales were utilized: Posttraumatic Checklist-Military, Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale, Pain Outcomes Questionnaire-Short Form, Cohen's Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Profile of Mood States, and an investigator-developed sexual harassment/assault instrument.

RESULTS:

Thirty-three percent of participants reported CSA; of these, 38.5% reported military sexual assault and 70.3% sexual assault during civilian life. Those with CSA had higher cholesterol, triglycerides, perceived stress scores, and greater pain and fatigue than those without CSA. Hair cortisol was marginally lower in women with CSA when PSS was controlled, suggesting a dampened hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

CONCLUSIONS:

These data suggest that some women veterans with a history of CSA may have increased allostatic load and be at increased risk for a variety of later life illnesses.

KEYWORDS:

allostasis; childhood sexual assault; veterans health; women’s health

PMID:
27067613
DOI:
10.1177/1099800416638442
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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