For this study, researchers wanted to investigate the association between lifetime sexual assault (defined as having been sexually assaulted at some point in one’s life) and reproductive health care seeking, contraceptive use, and family planning outcomes among female veterans. Researchers did a secondary analysis of data from computer-assisted telephone interviews with 1,004 female veterans aged 20–52 years who were enrolled in two Midwestern Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care systems between 2005 and 2008. Participants were questioned about their reproductive, mental, and general health histories, as well as their history of sexual assault. They used bivariate and multivariable logistic regression analyses to investigate the links between reproductive history and contraceptive usage among people who had suffered lifetime sexual assault against those who had not. Finally, they looked at why these women had not sought Pap test screening.
Moreover half (62%) of those polled said they had been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. They stratified the analysis by age since there was a significant correlation between older age and a history of lifetime sexual assault (P<.001). Women who had a history of lifetime sexual assault were more likely to have had unprotected intercourse for a year or more (aOR 2.31, 95% CI 1.35–3.96) and to have had an adolescent pregnancy (aOR 2.10, 95% CI 1.07–4.12) than women who did not report lifetime sexual assault. Women aged 40–52 with a history of lifetime sexual assault were more likely than women aged 40–52 without a history of lifetime sexual assault to report more than a year of unprotected intercourse, teen pregnancy, and not seeking prenatal care with their first pregnancy. When compared to women who had not suffered lifetime sexual assault, women who had experienced lifetime sexual assault were more likely to report not getting Pap exams in the past due to fear and anxiety.
Female veterans who had experienced lifetime sexual assault showed different family planning practices than women who had not experienced lifetime sexual assault. These findings have implications for clinicians and VA officials when considering the requirements of female veterans of reproductive age for family planning and reproductive care delivery.