Adverse childhood experiences, such as sexual abuse, have consistently been found to be associated with negative health-related outcomes in adulthood. Combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be at particular risk for such outcomes, as this population has been shown to report elevated rates of childhood sexual abuse. Research also suggests that combat veterans with PTSD are at increased risk for early mortality and behavioral causes of death, such as suicide, accidents, and homicide. However, despite the high rates of early mortality and childhood abuse among veterans with combat-related PTSD, to date, the relationship between these phenomena within this population has yet to be assessed. The current study examined the relationship between childhood sexual abuse and mortality in a sample of 1,866 male Vietnam-era U.S. combat veterans who sought residential treatment for PTSD. It was hypothesized that a history of childhood sexual abuse would be associated with elevated rates of both early mortality and behavioral causes of death. However, one-way ANOVAs did not reveal any significant differences in vital status or cause of death. Analyses did, however, yield descriptive data on the nature of the abuse experienced by the sample and the characteristics of the abuse perpetrators. These findings and their implications for treatment are discussed.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Post-traumatic stress disorder; Veterans -- Mental health

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Foy, David;