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Risk Factors for Sexual Assault in OEF/OIF Reserve and National Guard Servicemen

Sadler AG, McClain M, Cretzmeyer MT, Young LB, Booth BM, Torner J, Reisinger HS, Mengeling M. Risk Factors for Sexual Assault in OEF/OIF Reserve and National Guard Servicemen. Poster session presented at: AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting; 2011 Jun 12; Seattle, WA.


Objectives: To determine servicemen's perceptions of risk factors for sexual assault of Reserve/ National Guard (R/NG) servicemen. Design: Qualitative methods were used. Seven focus groups were held in neutral sites (local community colleges). Following transcription of audio-recorded groups, the research team developed a coding dictionary of relevant themes. Twenty-nine percent of the transcripts were independently coded by two researchers. Agreement between coders was 90% or better for most themes/codes. Remaining transcripts were coded by one of the two trained researchers and entered into NVivo 8.0 for data management/analysis. Risk factors were categorized as individual, organizational, or situational. Population studied: Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) era R/NG servicemen, still serving and former members, (N = 20) from five Midwestern States. The sample was provided by Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC). Results: The themes of individual and situational risk factors for MST were often referenced in tandem. ". you take a timid guy. He's not necessarily a weak person, but you get 4 or 5 guys out with ample personality and they get to drinkin and he comes along. and be in the wrong place at the wrong time". Rape stigma and blaming the victim were also recurrent themes. ". in the military it's not reported (rape) because of the stigma associated with it: You didn't defend yourself, you didn't do what you could to protect yourself."; ".and in the military, that (reporting) would be weakness". Organizational factors such as the influence of leadership on MST risk were identified. " .if your high school bully is the epitome of what a commander think a soldier should be, those soldiers who are weak are gonna fall prey to whatever they have.. And, yeah a weak soldier in an informal structure will be a victim if opportunity come in place towards beatings and harassment. rape". " A hospital personnel unit are making thinkers, and so therefore if something like that (rape) is to take place, it's gonna be discussed.. I don't see any infantry commander coming out talkin about males being raped". Implications: Individual, situational and organizational risk factors for male MST were identified. Sequelae of MST included blaming the victim, shame, stigma, and reporting barriers. Implications for Policy Delivery or Practice: Individual, situational and organizational risk factors for male MST are identifiable and thus can be addressed through primary prevention interventions. Health care clinicians must be aware MST occurs in R/NG servicemen and assess for consequent health effects. R/NG servicemen's top concerns to reporting MST in military were shame, stigma, and being blamed for their victimization. It is concerning that these barriers may also adversely impact this population's willingness to seek health care. Provider education about R/NG servicemen's unique occupational risk factors and reluctance to report victimization is necessary in order to provide comprehensive care for this emerging vulnerable population.

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