Prevalence of physical and sexual assault and mental health disorders in older women: findings from a nationally representative sample.

American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry

PubMedID: 23567392

Cook JM, Pilver C, Dinnen S, Schnurr PP, Hoff R. Prevalence of physical and sexual assault and mental health disorders in older women: findings from a nationally representative sample. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2013;21(9):877-86.
OBJECTIVES
This study presents prevalence and characteristics of physical and sexual assaults, and their relationship to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and mood and anxiety disorders in a nationally representative sample of older women.

DESIGN AND SETTING
Face-to-face interviews conducted with adult participants from wave 2 of the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

PARTICIPANTS
A total of 3,354 community-residing women of age 65 years and older.

MEASUREMENT
Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, current mood and anxiety disorders.

RESULTS
Almost 14% of participants reported a history of physical or sexual assault or both during their lifetimes. Assaults were often repeated rather than isolated events. Although the majority of participants did not identify interpersonal violence as their "worst" traumatic event, those who experienced interpersonal violence were generally more likely than those without such history to meet the criteria for past-year and lifetime PTSDs, depression, and anxiety.

CONCLUSIONS
Some women who have been physically or sexually assaulted decades earlier continue to report significant levels of mood and anxiety disorders into late adulthood. Several ways to increase the identification and treatment of older female trauma survivors by healthcare providers are suggested.