Title

The burden of illness in the first year home: do male and female VA users differ in health conditions and healthcare utilization

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Date

1-2011

Document Type

Article

Subjects

Adolescent; Adult; Afghan Campaign 2001-; Cohort Studies; Female; Health Care Surveys; Health Services; Hospitals, Veterans; Humans; Iraq War, 2003-2011; Male; Sex Factors; United States; Veterans; Veterans Health; Young Adult

Disciplines

Gender and Sexuality | Health and Medical Administration | Military and Veterans Studies | Women's Health

Abstract

BACKGROUND: we sought to describe gender differences in medical and mental health conditions and health care utilization among veterans who used Veterans Health Administration (VA) services in the first year after combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. METHODS: this is an observational study, using VA administrative and clinical data bases, of 163,812 Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans who had enrolled in VA and who had at least one visit within 1 year of last deployment. RESULTS: female veterans were slightly younger (mean age, 30 years vs. 32 for men; p <.0001), twice as likely to be African American (30% vs. 15%; p <.0001), and less likely to be married (32% vs. 49%; p < .0001). Women had more visits to primary care (2.6 vs. 2.0; p < .001) and mental health (4.0 vs. 3.6; p < .001) clinics and higher use of community care outside the VA (14% vs. 10%; p < .001). After adjustment for significant demographic differences, women were more likely to have musculoskeletal and skin disorders, mild depression, major depression, and adjustment disorders, whereas men were more likely to have ear disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder. Thirteen percent of women sought care for gynecologic examination, 10% for contraceptive counseling, and 7% for menstrual disorders. CONCLUSION: female veterans had similar rates of physical conditions, but higher rates of some mental health disorders and additionally, used the VA for reproductive health needs. They also had slightly greater rates of health care service use. These findings highlight the complexity of female Veteran health care and support the development of enhanced comprehensive women's health services within the VA.

Rights and Permissions

Citation: Womens Health Issues. 2011 Jan-Feb;21(1):92-7. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2010.08.001. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID

21185994