Veterans’ Asthma, Mental Health Show Link

by U.S. Medicine

March 7, 2016

SAN BERNARDINO, CA — Mental illness is associated with both current and lifetime asthma among U.S. veterans, according to a new study.

The study, published recently in the Journal of Asthma, involved 20,581 veterans. A study team led by California State University researchers used the 2005-2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health data, a national population-based survey, to identify U.S. study participants. Mental illness was defined as past year major-depressive episode and physician diagnosis of depression.1

Results found a 4% prevalence of current asthma and a 7.5% prevalence of asthma at some point in life among the veterans.

The study also revealed a significantly higher prevalence of major-depressive episode among veterans with current asthma, 8.23%, compared to those without, 4.68%. A similar trend was noted among those with lifetime asthma vs. those without — 7.84% vs. 4.58%.

In addition, doctor diagnosis of depression among veterans was higher among those with current asthma (11.83% vs. 5.86%) and lifetime asthma (10.32% vs. 5.76%), as compared to those without asthma.

After adjusting for confounders, current asthma was significantly associated with past year major-depressive episode, with an adjusted odds ratio of 1.65, and depression diagnosis, with an adjusted odds ratio of 1.88. At the same time, veterans with lifetime asthma, as compared to those without, were found to have higher odds of past year major-depressive episode, with adjusted odds ratio of 1.56, and depression diagnosis, having adjusted odds ratio of 1.66.

“The asthma/mental health nexus is significant among the U.S. veterans,” study authors concluded. “Such results warrant the need for integrated care to address mental health burden among veterans with asthma.”

1 Becerra MB, Becerra BJ, Safdar N. A nationwide assessment of asthma-mental health nexus among veterans. J Asthma. 2015 Nov 7:1-6. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26549507.

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