Combat Increases Female Veterans’ Mental Issues

by U.S. Medicine

October 12, 2016

WALTHAM, MA—While an association between combat exposure and post-deployment behavioral health problems has been demonstrated among U.S. military servicemembers returning from Afghanistan or Iraq in predominantly male samples, few studies have focused on the experiences of women.

A new study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress sought to remedy that.1

Brandeis University-led researchers used data from the longitudinal, observational Substance Use and Psychological Injury Combat (SUPIC) Study to analyze the self-reports of four combat-exposure items and post-deployment behavioral health screening results for 42,397 Army enlisted women who had returned from Afghanistan or Iraq from fiscal years 2008 through 2011.

The study team analyzed the information to determine how a constructed composite combat exposure score (0, 1, 2, 3+) was associated with screening positive post-deployment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and at-risk drinking among active duty (AD) and National Guard/Reserve (NG/R) women.

AD and NG/R women commonly reported being wounded, injured, assaulted or hurt—17.3% and 29.0%, respectively—and, in all six multivariate models, results indicate that Army women with any report of combat exposure had increased odds of the behavioral health problems such as, PTSD, depression or at-risk drinking.

Study authors note that the magnitude of the association between combat exposure and PTSD was most striking, indicating increased odds of PTSD as combat exposure score increased. AD and NG/R women with a combat exposure score of 3+ had increased odds of PTSD, 20.7and 27.8, respectively.

“Our findings suggest that injuries, assaults and combat exposures experienced by women during deployment may have an additive, negative effect on their post-deployment behavioral health,” explained lead author Rachel Sayko Adams, PhD, MPH. “Ongoing forcewide screening for behavioral health problems should be coupled with development and evaluation of programs to improve the psychological wellbeing of the Armed Forces.”

“Women who report combat exposure may benefit from early prevention and confidential intervention to promote post-deployment health and reduce long-term behavioral health problems,” the researchers conclude.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

1 Adams RS, Nikitin RV, Wooten NR, Williams TV, Larson MJ. The Association of Combat Exposure With Postdeployment Behavioral Health Problems Among U.S. Army Enlisted Women Returning From Afghanistan or Iraq. J Trauma Stress. 2016 Aug;29(4):356-64. doi: 10.1002/jts.22121. Epub 2016 Aug 1. PubMed PMID: 27476700.

 


Comments are closed here.


Related Articles

Political Issues Related to VA’s Limited Approval of Esketamine for Depression

WASHINGTON—A VA panel this summer opted not to add the new depression medication esketamine, Spravato, to the department’s formulary in the usual way. This came despite strong support from President Donald Trump and an effort... View Article

Ensuring Community Providers Meet Veteran Suicide Prevention Standards

WASHINGTON—As leaders from across multiple federal agencies begin work on a roadmap to combat veteran suicide, they are searching for ways to turn existing efforts in towns, cities, counties and neighborhoods across the country into... View Article


U.S. Medicine Recommends


More From department of veterans affairs

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Ensuring Community Providers Meet Veteran Suicide Prevention Standards

WASHINGTON—As leaders from across multiple federal agencies begin work on a roadmap to combat veteran suicide, they are searching for ways to turn existing efforts in towns, cities, counties and neighborhoods across the country into... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Manages Drug Costs Better than Medicare Part D

ST. LOUIS – Medicare Part D could save more than $14 billion annually if it paid the same prices for top medications as the VA, according to a new study. A research letter published earlier... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

House Passes Bill to Create Education/Employment Arm of VA

WASHINGTON,—Legislators have reintroduced plans to create a fourth administration within the Department of Veterans Affairs—one dedicated to overseeing veterans’ education, transition and employment benefits. Currently these operations fall under the Veterans Benefits Administration, with VBA... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Administrative Confusions Results in Little Oversight of VA’s Police Force

Suicides, Violence at VMACs Put Spotlight on Security WASHINGTON—As the number of suicides and other violent incidents at VA facilities grows, a spotlight is being thrown on VA’s internal police force and its ability to... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Veterans Using Dual Health Systems Have More Problems With Medications

CHARLESTON, SC—More than half of the patients treated by VA are also Medicare eligible, and that is increasing the risk for a range of prescription medication problems—from chronic disease medication nonadherence to opioid overdoses—among dual... View Article

Subscribe to U.S. Medicine Print Magazine

U.S. Medicine is mailed free each month to physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and administrators working for Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and U.S. Public Health Service.

Subscribe Now

Receive Our Email Newsletter

Stay informed about federal medical news, clinical updates and reports on government topics for the federal healthcare professional.

Sign Up