Active duty female military's experience of fear, embarrassment, and distress during pelvic examinations
Bakken, April D.
Whitaker, Lyn R.
Weitlauf, Julie C.
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Previous research indicates that among civilians and female veterans, a history of sexual violence is associated with negative experiences with gynecological care. We attempt to extend these findings to active duty female U.S. military officers. We hypothesize that in this population (1) sexual violence history status predicts emotional reactions to the pelvic examination; (2) that this relationship is mediated by military rank; and (3) recollections of the first pelvic examination are correlated with reactions to the most recent pelvic examination. Sixty participants completed an online survey, consisting of six questionnaires, tapping attitudes and reactions to gynecological care, history of trauma, recommendations, and demographic information. There is insufficient statistical evidence to support either a relationship between sexual violence history and reaction to the most recent pelvic examination, or that rank mediates this potential relationship. However, there is strong evidence that the first pelvic examination experience was positively correlated with the most recent pelvic examination experience. Participants, regardless of sexual violence status, reported stronger reactions to the first pelvic examination than to the most recent examination. The results are not consistent with previous work for several possible reasons including the definition of sexual violence, the role of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and homogeneity of the sample.
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