Predictors of using mental health services after sexual assault.

Abstract

Sexual assault increases the risk for psychopathology. Despite the availability of effective interventions, relatively few victims who need treatment receive care in the months following an assault. Prior work identified several factors associated with utilizing care, including ethnicity, insurance, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Few studies, however, have examined predictors of treatment utilization prospectively from the time of assault. The present study hypothesized that White racial status, younger age, being partnered, having health insurance, having previously received mental health treatment, and having more PTSD and depression symptoms would predict utilization of care in the 6 months postassault. This was examined in a sample of 266 female sexual assault victims with an average age of 26.2 years, of whom 62.0% were White and 38.0% were African American assessed at 1.5 and 6 months postassault. Available information on utilizing care varied across assessments (1.5 months, n = 214; 3 months, n = 126; 6 months, n = 204). Significant predictors included having previously received mental health treatment (OR = 4.09), 1 day depressive symptoms (OR = 1.06), and having private insurance (OR = 2.24) or Medicaid (OR = 2.19). Alcohol abuse and prior mental health care were associated with a substantial increase in treatment utilization (OR = 4.07). The findings highlight the need to help victims at risk obtain treatment after sexual assault.

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