Psychometric Exploration of a Measure of Military Sexual Trauma (MST): The Military Unwanted Sexual Experiences Survey (MUSES)



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Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is a category of wartime trauma found to have particularly deleterious effects on mental and physical health. Yet, no instrument exists that phenomenologically assesses MST, and the psychological correlates of MST are largely unknown. To address this gap in the literature, the Military Unwanted Sexual Experiences Scale (MUSES) was created. Grounded theory provided a framework for generating the initial item pool from clinical observation and the literature. Review by a panel of experts resulted in the initial 68-item MUSES. This study examined the psychometric properties of the MUSES via principal component analyses in a sample of 53 Veterans. Concurrent and predictive validity of the MUSES was examined utilizing the Posttraumatic Cognitions Inventory (PTCI), the Sexual Experiences Survey (SES), and the Posttraumatic Checklist-Specific Stressor version (PCL-S). Unrestricted and restricted principle component analyses indicated a four-factor solution with 56 items. Consistent with hypotheses, the MUSES was positively associated with the PTCI and PCL-S, and MUSES scores positively predicted symptom severity scores on the PCL-S. Against expectations, the MUSES was not related to scores on the SES. Implications and limitations of the study are discussed, with a focus on the descriptive knowledge gained regarding MST and the small sample size of the current study.



Military sexual trauma, Veterans, Trauma, Military sexual assault, Military sexual harassment