There is a pervasive and comprehensive history of sexism in the pursuit of scientific truth, extending back beyond the days of “hysteria” and continuing still. Herein, we discuss a disparity in scientific research on a disorder thought to affect less than 8% of the adult population in the USA with the number of women diagnosed with the disorder estimated to be two to three times higher than that of men. While post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is more likely to be experienced by women, we find that the overwhelming majority of published scientific literature on PTSD involves male combat veterans. For example, since March 2019, according to a widely used medical research search engine, specifically the electronic database PubMed (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/), over 1,100 articles can be found with the keywords, “veteran and PTSD” while using the keywords, “sexual assault and PTSD” yields a little over 100 total articles. While not all victims of sexual assault are female and not all combat veterans are male, the majority sex in each category is such that much of the research on “veteran” was specifically carried out with male veterans and much of the work on “sexual abuse” was carried out exclusively with females. This creates a perception that both overinflates the incidence of PTSD experienced by male combat veterans and underemphasizes the experience of PTSD in female victims of sexual assault. Differences in symptoms of PTSD do vary by war and what little research exists on PTSD after sexual assault suggests that it is likely that symptoms as well as associated comorbidities will vary depending on the cause, type, number, and age at first trauma, among other factors. This study focuses on the specific comorbidities of pain, addiction, and immune function in those who experience PTSD following war-based or sexually-based traumas. It is our hope that in reviewing the currently available research, we spotlight the need for research focused on PTSD experienced after sexual assault. Doing so has the potential to lead to better and more tailored treatments for PTSD, thus enriching outcomes for all sufferers of PTSD.
Anzalone, Jessica; Ramos-Goyette, Sharon; Morganelli, Marissa; and Krevosky, Merideth
Differences in Research on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: How Trauma-Type and Sex Contribute to the Published Research.
Journal of International Women's Studies, 23(1), 347-366.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol23/iss1/34