Impact of Combat and Sexual Harassment on the Severity of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder among Men and Women Peacekeepers in Somalia

Citation:

Fontana, Alan, Brett Litz, and Robert Rosenheck. 2000. "Impact of Combat and Sexual Harassment on the Severity of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder among Men and Women Peacekeepers in Somalia." Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 188 (3): 163-169.

Authors: Alan Fontana, Brett Litz, Robert Rosenheck

Abstract:

The impact of combat and sexual harassment on the severity of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is compared for 1307 men and 197 women peacekeepers who served in the same military units. A theoretical model was proposed to express the nature of the impact. Structural equation modeling was used to evaluate the model separately for men and women. Good-fitting, parsimonious models were developed that showed substantial similarity for men and women. For men, severity of PTSD symptoms was impacted by exposure to combat directly and indirectly through fear and sexual harassment. For women, severity of PTSD symptoms was impacted by combat indirectly through the same two influences, although the mechanisms involving fear and sexual harassment were somewhat different. For both genders, moreover, PTSD severity was impacted directly by exposure to the dying of the Somali people. These similarities suggest that in modern stressful overseas military missions, both genders may be susceptible to the same types of risk for the development of PTSD. The incidence and impact of sexual harassment is particularly noteworthy in the case of men and calls for more detailed investigation in future studies.

Keywords: sexual assault, posttraumatic stress disorder, peacekeepers

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Gender, Women, Men, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Humanitarian Assistance, Peacekeeping, Peace Processes, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Somalia

Year: 2000

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