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Physical health status of female veterans: contributions of sex partnership and in-military rape.

Booth BM, Davis TD, Cheney AM, Mengeling MA, Torner JC, Sadler AG. Physical health status of female veterans: contributions of sex partnership and in-military rape. Psychosomatic medicine. 2012 Nov 1; 74(9):916-24.

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OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to determine whether current physical health status in female veterans is associated with rape during military service and same-sex partnership. METHODS: Retrospective computer-assisted telephone interviews of 1004 Midwestern US female veterans identified from Veterans Affairs electronic records were conducted. Data included rape history including rape in military, sex partnership history, demographics, and medical history including chronic pain, mental health (depression and posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD]), and the physical health component of the Short-Form 12-item interview (PCS-12). RESULTS: Physical health in this sample was lower than norm values [PCS-12: mean (standard deviation) = 43 [12]; norm: mean (standard deviation) = 50 [10]). Fifty-one percent of the participants reported rape in their lifetime, 25% reported rape in military, 11% reported history of women as sex partners, and 71% reported history of chronic pain. Multiple regression analysis indicated that physical health (PCS-12) was associated with chronic pain history ( = -.40, p < .001), rape in military ( = -.09, p = .002), and current PTSD ( = .07, p = .03), adjusting for demographic data. Mediational analysis indicated that chronic pain history significantly mediated relationships of women who have sex with women, childhood rape, PTSD, depression, and current substance use disorder with PCS-12. CONCLUSIONS: Both rape and sex partnership are adversely associated with lower physical functioning in female veterans. Clinicians evaluating the physical health of this population should therefore consider obtaining detailed sexual histories, and a multidisciplinary team is needed to address mental health issues in female veterans.

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