Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Epidemiology & Community Health

First Advisor

Dr. Sabo Masho


Background Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric debilitating condition that can occur in individuals who experience extremely stressful or traumatic life events. Sexual assault is considered as one of the most traumatic stressor in life. Although few studies investigated the association between history of sexual assault and PTSD, no studies have examined the impact of age at sexual assault on PTSD.Method A cross-sectional telephone survey was conducted among adult female residents of Virginia from November 2002 to February 2003. A total of 1,769 women aged 18 and older were interviewed using a random digit dialing method. Detailed screening questionnaire was utilized to ascertain the occurrence of sexual assault, age at sexual assault and PTSD. The DSM-IV diagnostic criteria were used to define PTSD.Result The prevalence of PTSD among women with no history of sexual assault, those victimized before the age of 18 and 18 and above was 8.1%, 35.3%, and 30.2% respectively. Multivariate logistic regression model showed an increase risk of PTSD among women assaulted at a younger age. Compared to women with no history of sexual assault, women who were victimized before their 18th birthday were 2.8 times more likely to suffer from PTSD [OR=2.78 (95% C1=1.87- 4.23)]. The risk of PTSD among women victimized as adults was 2.6 times higher compared to women with no history of sexual assault [OR=2.59 (95%CI =1.43-4.70)].Conclusion This study provided important information on the association between PTSD and age at sexual assault. The risk of PTSD is relatively higher among those assaulted before the age of 18. The adverse effect of sexual assault as a risk for PTSD in addition to other negative health problems is a major public health concern. Primary prevention strategies should be in place to detect sexual assault victims and prevent the occurrence of PTSD.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Epidemiology Commons