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Sexual Harassment has Negative Effects on Men and Women Marines' Mental Health


This study is the first to examine the role of post-traumatic stress symptoms (PSS) in the relationship between sexual harassment in the military and perceived physical health. Investigators analyzed data for 226 female and 91 male Marines who had experienced sexual harassment during the previous six months. These data were collected as part of a larger study of Marine recruits who arrived for boot camp in 1997. Data were gathered during the first week of boot camp and were then re-evaluated via mailed survey 21 months after the Marines began recruit training. Measures in this study included: sexual harassment and assault, perceived physical health, post-traumatic stress symptoms, and depression.

Findings show that both men and women who experienced sexual harassment had increased PSS, after accounting for pre-sexual harassment health and current depressive symptoms. For men, higher levels of sexual harassment were associated with worse perceived physical health; whereas for women, lower levels of sexual harassment were associated with worse perceived health. Overall, results suggest that sexual harassment in the Marines has negative effects on both men and women's mental health.

PubMed Logo Shipherd J, Pineles S, Gradus J, and Resick P. Sexual harassment in the Marines, post-traumatic stress symptoms and perceived health: Evidence for sex differences. Journal of Traumatic Stress 2009 Feb;22(1):3-10.

This study was partly funded by HSR&D. All authors are part of the VA Boston Healthcare System, National Center for PTSD Women's Health Sciences Division.

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What are HSR&D Publication Briefs?

HSR&D requires notification by HSR&D-funded investigators about all articles accepted for publication. These journal articles are reviewed by HSR&D and publication briefs or summaries are written for a select number of articles that are then forwarded to VHA Central Office leadership to keep them informed about important findings or information. Articles to be summarized are selected by HSR&D based on timeliness of the findings, interest of leadership, or potential impact on the organization. Publication briefs are written for only a small number of HSR&D published articles. Visit the HSR&D citations database for a complete listing of HSR&D articles and presentations.