Sexual Victimization, Health Status, and VA Healthcare Utilization Among Lesbian and Bisexual OEF/OIF Veterans

Citation:

Mattocks, Kristin M., Anne Sadler, Elizabeth M. Yano, Erin E. Krebs, Laurie Zephyrin, Cynthia Brandt, Rachel Kimerling, Theo Sandfort, Melissa E. Dichter, Jeffrey J. Weiss, Jeroan Allison, and Sally Haskell. 2013. “Sexual Victimization, Health Status, and VA Healthcare Utilization Among Lesbian and Bisexual OEF/OIF Veterans.” Journal of General Internal Medicine 28 (S2): S604–8. 

Authors: Kristin M. Mattocks, Anne Sadler, Elizabeth M. Yano, Erin E. Krebs, Laurie Zephyrin, Cynthia Brandt, Rachel Kimerling, Theo Sandfort, Melissa E. Dichter, Jeffrey J. Weiss, Jeroan Allison, Sally Haskell

Abstract:

BACKGROUND: Many lesbian and bisexual (LB) women veterans may have been targets of victimization in the military based on their gender and presumed sexual orientation, and yet little is known regarding the health or mental health of LB veterans, nor the degree to which they feel comfortable receiving care in the VA. 
 
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence of mental health and gender-specific conditions, VA healthcare satisfaction and trauma exposure among LB veterans receiving VA care compared with heterosexually-identified women veterans receiving. 
 
DESIGN: Prospective cohort study of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) women veterans at two large VA facilities. 
 
PARTICIPANTS: Three hundred and sixty five women veterans that completed a baseline survey. Thirty-five veterans (9.6 %) identified as gay or lesbian (4.7 %), or bisexual (4.9 %). 
 
MAIN MEASURES: Measures included sexual orientation, military sexual trauma, mental and gender-specific health diagnoses, and VA healthcare utilization and satisfaction. 
 
KEY RESULTS: LB OEF/OIF veterans were significantly more likely to have experienced both military and childhood sexual trauma than heterosexual women (MST: 31 % vs. 13 %, p<.001; childhood sexual trauma: 60 % vs. 36 %, p=.01), to be hazardous drinkers (32 % vs. 16 %, p=.03) and rate their current mental health as worse than before deployment (35 % vs. 16 %, p<.001). 
 
CONCLUSIONS: Many LB veterans have experienced sexual victimization, both within the military and as children, and struggle with substance abuse and poor mental health. Health care providers working with female Veterans should be aware of high rates of military sexual trauma and childhood abuse and refer women to appropriate VA treatment and support groups for sequelae of these experiences. Future research should focus on expanding this study to include a larger and more diverse sample of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender veterans receiving care at VA facilities across the country. (C) Society of General Internal Medicine 2013

Keywords: lesbian, health services research, veterans, women

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, LGBTQ, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Sexual Violence, SV against women Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2013

© 2017 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.