European Journal of Psychotraumatology
Author ORCID Identifier
Rebecca K. Blais https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2483-1576
Taylor & Francis
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
Background: Military sexual trauma (MST) that involves assault is associated with poorer sexual function in U. S. women service members/veterans (SM/Vs). Theory of sexual function suggests that the presence of higher depression severity and more negative sexual self-schemas may contribute to sexual dysfunction. This has yet to be examined in partnered women SM/Vs who are survivors of MST.
Objective: Using path analysis, the current study examined the associations of MST type, depression, sexual self-schemas, and sexual function in 818 partnered women SM/Vs.
Method: Three separate mediation models were tested, all testing indirect effects of depression and sexual self-schemas on the association of MST type and sexual function. In Model 1, the mediation model assumed that exposure to MST predicted more severe depression, which then predicted more negative sexual self-schemas. More negative sexual self-schemas, in turn, predicted poorer sexual function. In Model 2, the mediation model assumed that exposure to MST predicted more negative sexual self-schemas, which then predicted more severe depression. More severe depression, in turn, predicted poorer sexual function. In Model 3, the mediation model assumed a parallel mediation in that exposure to MST predicted more severe depression and more negative sexual self- schemas, which in turn, predicted poorer sexual function.
Results: The best fitting model suggested a parallel mediation of higher depression severity (estimate: −1.30, confidence interval: −1.91,-.69) and more negative sexual self-schemas (estimate: −2.09, confidence interval: −2.94,-1.24) on the association of assault MST and poorer sexual function (Model 3). Harassment-only MST was unrelated to sexual function through mediated pathways.
Conclusions: Interventions to improve sexual function among MST survivors who experienced assault should address negative sexual self-schemas related to sexual performance and depressive symptoms. Cognitive behavioural interventions that include challenging maladaptive cognitions may be well suited to address this clinical need.
Rebecca K. Blais & Whitney S. Livingston (2021) The association of assault military sexual trauma and sexual function among partnered female service members and veterans: the mediating roles of depression and sexual self-schemas, European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 12:1, 1872964, DOI: 10.1080/20008198.2021.1872964