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.
Abstract:Military families face many unique challenges, including frequent separations, demanding work hours, and relocations. The HealthySteps (HS) program may offset these challenges utilizing the expertise of a nonclinical child development specialist called a HS specialist who offers enhanced well-child visits (WCVs), support between visits, and connections to community resources. Our study sought to identify the impact of the military HS pilot program on the timeliness of WCVs, immunizations, routine behavioural and developmental screenings, and referrals to community resources within the first 15 months of life (MOL). We retrospectively reviewed charts of 26 HS-enrolled and 26 randomly selected age-matched non-HS–enrolled children from age 2 to 15 MOL. Demographic variables obtained include child’s gender, child’s birth order, mother’s age, active duty parent’s rank classification, and active duty parent’s gender. We examined five outcomes measures aligning with the American Academy of Pediatrics health supervision, immunization, and screening recommendations and National Committee for Quality Assurance Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set measures: (1) completed six or more WCVs in the first 15 MOL, (2) completed developmental screening at the 9-month WCV, (3) up to date on vaccinations at 15 MOL, (4) completed three or more postpartum depression (PPD) screens in the first 6 MOL, and (5) the total number of documented referrals to community resources within the first 15 MOL. Chi-square analysis and independent t-tests were used to compare the groups. There was no statistical significance (P > .05) between the HS-enrolled and control groups for all five demographic variables. A significantly higher percentage of children in the HS-enrolled group received PPD screening compared to the control group (96% vs. 73.1%, P = .021). The HS-enrolled group had a higher mean number of community resource referrals at 15 MOL of 2.46 (SD = 1.14) vs. the control group with a mean of 0.19 (SD = 0.49). None of the other outcomes showed a statistically significant difference between groups. The results of this study indicate the positive impacts of the military HS program on referrals to community resources and PPD screening, reflecting the HS specialist focus on the family unit. Limitations of this study include the small population size and limited demographic information resulting from the retrospective nature of the study and pilot status of the HS program. Larger prospective studies are needed to clarify the true impact of the HS program in the military health system.