Online Program

Does mixed-gender housing influence risk of sexual assault in deployed OEF/OIF service women?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 1:25 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.

Anne Sadler, Ph.D., CADRE Research (151), Iowa City VAHealth Care Center, University of Iowa Department of Psychiatry, Iowa City, IA
Michelle Mengeling, Ph.D., CADRE Research (151), Iowa City VA Health Care System, Iowa City, IA
James Torner, Ph.D., College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Brian Cook, D.O., DVA, Iowa City, IA
Brenda M. Booth, PhD, Division of Health Services Research, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR

Although over 20,000 female service-members have been deployed in OEF/OIF, research addressing risk factors for sexual assault (SA) is sparse.


To determine if OEF/OIF servicewomen report mixed-gender housing during deployment influences service women’s risk of sexual assault.

For this mixed methods study, we included a community sample of OEF/OIF servicewomen in the active component (AC) and Reserves/National Guard (RNG) returning from deployment within the preceding 2 years. Fourteen focus groups (N=75) were performed followed by a computer-assisted telephone interview (N=775) assessing violence risks/exposures during deployment and health outcomes.


Qualitative interviews: servicewomen acknowledged SA occurs in both mixed and gender-segregated housing.  Participants were more likely to acknowledge the protective aspects of mixed gender housing, “if you stay close with them (service men) they will look out for you’’ and indicated that gender-segregated housing is “frustrating and counter-productive”, with unintended consequences, e.g. not receiving key information, “it kind of filters through the males but nobody can come down and tell us because they’d get in trouble.” They most often reported other risks, e.g. walking to latrines at night. Quantitative findings: SA was reported by 5% of servicewomen during deployment. AC and RNG differences for enlisted and officers will be reported by gender-segregated vs mixed housing during deployment.


Gender mixed housing was not perceived by servicewomen to elevate SA risk in deployment. Quantitative findings validated this.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify if the gender mix in housing is associated with service women's risk of sexual assault during deployment following this presentation. Discuss how rank, service type, and housing interact to influence women's risk of or protection from service women's risk of sexual assault while deployed.

Keyword(s): Occupational Health and Safety, Sexual Assault

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the PI on the grants being presented and have been a funded investigator for over a decade. I am a Ph.D. with a post-doctoral education.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.