Sexual abuse and posttraumatic stress disorder in adult women with severe mental illness: A pilot study

Rebecca Bonugli, Margaret H. Brackley, Gail B. Williams, Janna Lesser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research indicates that women with serious mental illness (SMI) are vulnerable to sexual abuse, resulting in adverse health outcomes such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The purpose of this pilot study was to examine the prevalence of undiagnosed PTSD among a cohort of 20 women with SMI and reporting past sexual abuse. Furthermore, the researcher sought to identify specific symptom manifestations of PTSD among women with SMI and sexual abuse histories. Finally, the feasibility of using specific data collection tools was examined. Results indicated that PTSD was not previously diagnosed or recognized in the study sample, in spite of the presence of a sexual trauma history. The screening tools were effective in identifying depression, guilt, emotional withdrawal, blunted affect, decreased psychomotor activity, suicidal ideations, sexual dysfunction, and substance abuse. Additionally, the data collection tools provided a framework for discussing sensitive issues related to sexual abuse. Implications of this pilot study suggest the need to evaluate all women with SMI and history of sexual abuse for PTSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)456-460
Number of pages5
JournalIssues in Mental Health Nursing
Volume31
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health

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