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Experience of Childhood Abuse and Military Sexual Trauma Among Women Veterans with Fibromyalgia

  • Megan R. Gerber
  • Kristina M. Bogdan
  • Sally G. Haskell
  • Erica R. Scioli
Concise Research Reports

INTRODUCTION

Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic, disabling disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain often accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues.1 Fibromyalgia is female-predominant with a US prevalence of 2% of the adult population (3.4% females and 0.5% males)1 and has been associated with interpersonal trauma exposure, notably abuse in childhood. Child abuse may result in long-term physiologic adaptations that promote chronic pain.1

Women veterans are a growing segment of the VA population, and among those using VA care, high levels of chronic pain and interpersonal trauma exposure prior to and during military service have been reported. 2 The Veterans Health Administration (VA) uses the term “military sexual trauma” (MST) to refer to sexual harassment and/or sexual trauma experienced during the course of military service (U.S. Code, Title 38, §1720D); screening is mandatory in the VA (Table 1).
Table 1

VA Military Sexual Trauma Questions

Question 1

Wh...

KEY WORDS

women’s health veterans chronic pain child abuse trauma fibromyalgia 

Notes

Funding

Funding for this project was provided as part of an operational quality initiative through Women’s Health Services, Veteran’s Health Administration. The research described here was also supported in part by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Rehabilitation Research and Development Service (Award Number 1IK2RX000704-01A2).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The institutional review board approved the study.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position or policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Government.

References

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    Borchers AT, Gershwin ME. Fibromyalgia: a critical and comprehensive review. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2015;49(2):100–151.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
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    Haskell SG, Papas RK, Heapy A, Reid MC, Kerns RD. The association of sexual trauma with persistent pain in a sample of women veterans receiving primary care. Pain Med. 2008;9(6):710–717.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
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    Mohanty AF, Helmer DA, Muthukutty A, et al. Fibromyalgia syndrome care of Iraq- and Afghanistan-deployed Veterans in Veterans Health Administration. Journal of rehabilitation research and development. 2016;53(1):45–58.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
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    D'Aoust RF, Rossiter AG, Elliott A, Ji M, Lengacher C, Groer M. Women veterans, a population at risk for fibromyalgia: the associations between fibromyalgia, symptoms, and quality of life. Mil Med. 2017;182(7):e1828-e1835.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
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    Scioli-Salter ER, Smith BN, McSheffrey S, et al. Self-efficacy for adoption and maintenance of exercise among fibromyalgia patients: a pilot study. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. Epub 12 December 2017.Google Scholar
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    Scioli-Salter ER, Johnides BD, Mitchell KS, Smith BN, Resick PA, Rasmusson AM. Depression and dissociation as predictors of physical health symptoms among female rape survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder. Psychol Trauma. 2016;8(5):585–591.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine (This is a U.S. government work and not under copyright protection in the U.S.; foreign copyright protection may apply) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Megan R. Gerber
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kristina M. Bogdan
    • 3
  • Sally G. Haskell
    • 4
    • 5
  • Erica R. Scioli
    • 3
    • 6
  1. 1.Women’s Health Program VA Boston Healthcare SystemBostonUSA
  2. 2.Section of General Internal Medicine, Department of MedicineBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  3. 3.Women’s Health Sciences Division, National Center for PTSDVA Boston Healthcare SystemBostonUSA
  4. 4.VA Connecticut Healthcare SystemWest HavenUSA
  5. 5.Department of MedicineYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  6. 6.Department of PsychiatryBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA

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