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Concerns of relationship mistreatment, emotional abuse, and physical abuse in deployed military medical personnel: Prevalence and risk factors

APA Citation:

McMahon, C. J., Zwetzig, S., Schumann, B., Straud, C. L., Baker, M. T., Young-McCaughan, S., Litz, B. T., Isler, W. C., McNally, R. J., Mintz, J., & Peterson, A. L. (2022). Concerns of relationship mistreatment, emotional abuse, and physical abuse in deployed military medical personnel: Prevalence and risk factors. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 66, Article 101735. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2022.101735

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study explored the extent to which deployed Airmen (N = 721) were concerned about relationship mistreatment and abuse (i.e., physical and emotional). The associations between demographic factors (e.g., gender, race, religion) and concerns about abuse were also examined. Although concerns about relationship mistreatment and abuse were generally low, Airmen who identified as White or Christian tended to report more concerns regarding emotional and physical abuse.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Air Force

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Secondary Analysis


McMahon, Chelsea J., Zwetzig, Sarah, Schumann, Bailee, Straud, Casey L., Baker, Monty T., Young-McCaughan, Stacey, Litz, Brett T., Isler, William C., McNally, Richard J., Mintz, Jim, Peterson, Alan L.


The aims of this study were to identify self-reported point-prevalence rates of concerns about relationship mistreatment, emotional abuse, and physical abuse among military medical personnel and to evaluate demographic and military risk factors associated with these concerns. Participants (N = 721) were U.S. Air Force military medical personnel (61.4% male) deployed to Iraq between 2004 and 2011 who reported being either married or engaged. Most of the sample expressed at least some concern for mistreatment (79.0%), emotional abuse (70.8%), or physical abuse (66.3%) in their relationship. Caucasians were more likely to endorse emotional abuse concerns compared with other racial groups (p = .04). Men (p = .02) and service members who identified as Christians (p = .03) were more likely to endorse physical abuse concerns compared to their respective counterparts. Results suggest that relationship abuse concerns may be more common than expected among deployed military medical personnel. Demographic factors were associated with abuse concerns and military service characteristics and probable posttraumatic stress disorder diagnosis were not associated with abuse concerns. Future research should examine abuse concerns in population-based studies of military personnel and evaluate the longitudinal trajectory of outcomes associated with relationship abuse among active duty military personnel across the deployment cycle.

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Publication Type:


Author Affiliation:

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, CJM
Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at San Antonio, CJM


emotional abuse, intimate partner violence, military medical, physical abuse

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  June 2022

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