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J Consult Clin Psychol. 1994 Apr;62(2):333-40.

Somatic symptoms, social support, and treatment seeking among sexual assault victims.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens 30602-3013.


In an effort to clarify the relationship between the experience of sexual assault and physical health, rape victims and a matched comparison group were repeatedly assessed for somatic symptoms, psychological distress, health care use, and self-rated health perceptions during the year immediately after the assault. Women who experienced sexual assault reported more somatic complaints, poorer perceptions of physical health, greater psychological distress, and increased use of medical services. However, victims did not show a significantly higher use of mental health services and continued to seek medical attention at the end of the year after the assault, when health perceptions and somatic symptoms were no longer significantly elevated. The use of mental health services and social support as moderating variables are examined, and implications for the medical and psychological treatment of sexual assault victims are discussed.

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