Trauma and Sexual Risk: Do Men and Women Veterans Differ

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Gender and Sexuality | Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Military and Veterans Studies | Psychiatry and Psychology | Women's Health


PURPOSE: Trauma has been associated with risky sexual behavior in diverse populations. However, little is known about this association among men and women veterans. This study hypothesized that 1) a history of trauma would be associated with risky sexual behavior among men and women veterans, 2) interpersonal trauma would predict risky sexual behavior among women, whereas noninterpersonal trauma would predict risky sexual behavior among men, and 3) military-related trauma would constitute additional risk. Using data from 567 women and 524 men veterans enrolled at the Veterans Health Administration, this study investigated the association between trauma-related experiences and risky sexual behavior in the last 12 months. Risk and protective factors that have been frequently associated with sexual behavior in previous research were also included in the model.

METHODS: This study was drawn from the Women Veterans Cohort Study, a national survey of veterans. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed after multiple imputation for missing data.

RESULTS: Predictive factors associated with risky sexual behavior differed between men and women veterans. Among women, childhood sexual victimization and intimate partner violence were associated with risky sexual behavior. Among men, binge drinking was the single significant risk factor. Military exposures were not significantly associated with risky sexual behavior in either men or women.

CONCLUSIONS: This study lays the groundwork for theory-generating research into the psychological underpinnings of noted associations and underscores the importance of integrated health services to address the range of issues affecting sexual behavior and related health outcomes.

DOI of Published Version



Womens Health Issues. 2019 Jun 25;29 Suppl 1:S74-S82. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2019.04.014. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health

PubMed ID


Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed