Psychosocial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women with trauma histories: Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN)

Karen P. Jakubowski, Rachel E. Koffer, Karen A. Matthews, Sherri Ann M. Burnett-Bowie, Carol A. Derby, Elaine W. Yu, Robin Green, Rebecca C. Thurston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Older adults, particularly those with trauma histories, may be vulnerable to adverse psychosocial outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic. We tested associations between prepandemic childhood abuse or intimate partner violence (IPV) and elevated depressive, anxiety, conflict, and sleep symptoms during the pandemic among aging women. Women (N = 582, age: 65–77 years) from three U.S. sites (Pittsburgh, Boston, Newark) of the longitudinal Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) reported pandemic-related psychosocial impacts from June 2020–March 2021. Prepandemic childhood abuse; physical/emotional IPV; social functioning; physical comorbidities; and depressive, anxiety, and sleep symptoms were drawn from SWAN assessments between 2009 and 2017. There were no measures of prepandemic conflict. In total, 47.7% and 35.3% of women, respectively, reported childhood abuse or IPV. Using logistic regression models adjusted for age; race/ethnicity; education; site; prepandemic social functioning and physical comorbidities; and, in respective models, prepandemic depressive, anxiety, or sleep symptoms, childhood abuse predicted elevated anxiety symptoms, OR = 1.67, 95% CI [1.10, 2.54]; household conflict, OR = 2.19, 95% CI [1.32, 3.61]; and nonhousehold family conflict, OR = 2.14, 95% CI [1.29, 3.55]. IPV predicted elevated sleep problems, OR = 1.63, 95% CI [1.07, 2.46], and household conflict, OR = 1.96, 95% CI [1.20, 3.21]. No associations emerged for depressive symptoms after adjusting for prepandemic depression. Aging women with interpersonal trauma histories reported worse anxiety, sleep, and conflict during the COVID-19 pandemic than those without. Women's trauma histories and prepandemic symptoms are critical to understanding the psychosocial impacts of the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-179
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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