Recent Research Core Findings
Our Women and Trauma Core is conducting studies to identify who is most likely to experience trauma, the risk and protective factors associated with poor versus adaptive health outcomes, and the treatment and prevention programs that work. Our ultimate goal is to inform policy regarding how to reduce risk for trauma, and optimize the efficacy and effectiveness of various treatment interventions.
We have shown that:
- Women age 65+ report significantly fewer experiences of physical assault and sexual assault over their lifetimes, compared to middle-aged and younger women, suggesting that younger cohorts are at greater risk.
- Age does not modify the association between physical or sexual assault and past-year Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Both are deleterious to women’s health at any age, even years after the initial trauma has occurred.
- Among women aged 65+, a lifetime history of physical assault, but not sexual assault, was significantly associated with past-year mood and anxiety disorders.
- Symptoms of PTSD can appear in several ways, including re-experiencing the trauma, avoiding cues or “triggers” associated with the trauma, becoming emotionally numb to the trauma, and becoming easily or overly aroused by cues associated with the trauma.
- The prevalence of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, a constellation of severe affective and emotional symptoms that occur in the days prior to the onset of a menstrual cycle, is significantly higher among women with lifetime histories of trauma compared to women who had no exposure to trauma over their lifetimes.