Combat Exposure and Mental Health Outcomes: The Incremental Impact of Gender Harassment on Women Veterans
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The present study investigated the incremental impact of gender harassment on the association between combat exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and problem drinking in 134 female veterans who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. The participant pool consisted of 600 randomly selected women who had deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq and were residing in Veterans Integrated Service Network 1 (VISN 1; New England). Participants received an invitation letter by mail with information about the study, a document describing the informed consent, and a link to a survey website provided by the secure, nonsearchable survey provider PsychData. Participants visited the link, indicated their informed consent, and completed a 30-minute survey. The data collected were anonymous. Logistic regression analyses revealed that combat exposure significantly predicted PTSD and problem drinking. For every one unit increase in combat exposure, the odds ratios of PTSD and problem drinking were 2.00 times and 1.88 times more likely to be coded as present. These findings remained significant after controlling for gender harassment, resulting in odds ratios of 1.83 and 1.76, respectively. Gender harassment significantly predicted PTSD and depression. For every one unit increase in gender harassment, the odds ratios of PTSD and depression were 1.77 times and 1.80 times more likely to be coded as present. These findings remained significant after controlling for combat exposure, resulting in odds ratios of 1.55 and 5.90, respectively. Subsequent relative risk analyses indicated that experiencing both gender harassment and combat exposure was associated with an increased risk of PTSD, problem drinking, and depression 3.56, 3.81, and 6.19 times higher, respectively, compared to those who reported only combat exposure. As a concurrent risk factor to combat exposure, gender harassment appears to increase the likelihood of meeting at least minimum threshold for PTSD, depression, and problem drinking. These findings assist in understanding and contextualizing the impact of gender harassment on female veterans’ psychological well-being.
Stanton, Kimberley (2018). Combat Exposure and Mental Health Outcomes: The Incremental Impact of Gender Harassment on Women Veterans. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from