Prevalence and Correlates of Military Sexual Trauma in Service Members and Veterans: Results From the 2018 Canadian Armed Forces Members and Veterans Mental Health Follow-up Survey

Abstract: Introduction: Military sexual trauma (MST) is an ongoing problem. We used a 2002 population-based sample, followed up in 2018, to examine: (1) the prevalence of MST and non-MST in male and female currently serving members and veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces, and (2) demographic and military correlates of MST and non-MST. Methods: Data came from the 2018 Canadian Armed Forces Members and Veterans Mental Health Follow-up Survey (n = 2,941, ages 33 years + ). Individuals endorsing sexual trauma were stratified into MST and non-MST and compared to individuals with no sexual trauma. The prevalence of lifetime MST was computed, and correlates of sexual trauma were examined using multinomial regression analyses. Results: The overall prevalence of MST was 44.6% in females and 4.8% in males. Estimates were comparable between currently serving members and veterans. In adjusted models in both sexes, MST was more likely among younger individuals (i.e., 33-49 years), and MST and non-MST were more likely in those reporting more non-sexual traumatic events. Among females, MST and non-MST were more likely in those reporting lower household income, non-MST was less likely among Officers, and MST was more likely among those with a deployment history and serving in an air environment. Unwanted sexual touching by a Canadian military member or employee was the most prevalent type and context of MST. Interpretation: A high prevalence of MST was observed in a follow-up sample of Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans. Results may inform further research as well as MST prevention efforts.

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