Study shows high magnitude stressors stronger than military sexual stressors

Dec 08, 2010

A study of long-term, active duty military personnel who used Department of Veterans Affairs' health services showed that childhood maltreatment and other high magnitude stressors, such as being in a serious accident or a natural disaster, were more strongly associated with participants' current psychiatric symptoms than were their military sexual experiences, such as sexual harassment.

The research, described in issue 44 -16 of the Journal of Psychiatric Research, was completed by Dr. Maureen Murdoch and colleagues of the Minneapolis VA and University of Minnesota Schools of Medicine and Public Health in collaboration with researchers from Illinois State University, Normal, IL; North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, Gainesville, FL; and Analytic Services, Inc., Arlington, VA. The article is entitled, "The association between military sexual stress and after controlling for other "

The researchers conducted a mailed survey of 681 confirmed active duty troops registered in the VA's Enrollment Database between 2001 and 2003. Eighty-four percent of contacted troops responded.

Most prior research examining associations between military sexual stressors and psychiatric symptoms has not accounted for participants' other stressor experiences and consequently may have over- or under-estimated the association between military sexual stressors and psychiatric symptoms.

By evaluating troops' stressor experiences more comprehensively, the researchers discovered that many stressors are interrelated. For example, troops who experienced were also more likely than other participants to report military sexual stressor experiences, and they were more likely to report other high magnitude stressors.

Working in a military unit seen as tolerating was also associated with reporting more types of military sexual stressors and with reporting more psychiatric symptoms. Findings remained the same when men and women were analyzed separately. The researchers speculated that learning how and why childhood maltreatment increases troops' odds of experiencing military sexual stressors might lead to interventions to reduce the latter.

"Eradicating tolerance for military sexual harassment might also reduce troops' risk of experiencing military sexual stressors and reduce psychiatric symptoms," Dr. Murdoch said.

The researchers studied a unique sample of military personnel, and members of the Marine Corps were especially underrepresented. Therefore, the researchers cautioned that the results may not pertain to the Marine Corps or to the military as a whole. The researchers urged that additional studies be done in other military populations to see if their findings could be replicated.

The research was funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development Service.

Explore further: Religious music brings benefit to seniors' mental health

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Redefining sexual discrimination

Aug 05, 2010

verbal and nonverbal behaviors that convey insulting, hostile and degrading attitudes to women - is just as distressing for women victims as sexual advances in the workplace. According to Emily Leskinen, Lilia Cortina, and ...

Most Britons escape 'Iraq war syndrome'

May 16, 2006

British troops serving in Iraq suffer post-conflict mental health problems at a far lower rate than U.S. military personnel, researchers say.

Both boys and girls negatively affected by sexual harassment

May 12, 2008

A new study in Psychology of Women Quarterly explored the outcomes of sexual harassment on both boys and girls. While girls were harassed more frequently, boys were indirectly yet negatively affected through a school climat ...

Recommended for you

Religious music brings benefit to seniors' mental health

Apr 18, 2014

A new article published online in The Gerontologist reports that among older Christians, listening to religious music is associated with a decrease in anxiety about death and increases in life satisfaction, self-e ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.