Gender Differences in Rates of Depression, PTSD, Pain, Obesity, and Military Sexual Trauma among Connecticut War Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan

Citation:

Haskell, Sally G., Kirsha S. Gordon, Dristen Mattocks, Mona Duggal, Joseph Erdos, Amy Justice, and Cynthia A. Brandt. 2010. "Gender Differences in Rates of Depression, PTSD, Pain, Obesity, and Military Sexual Trauma among Connecticut War Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan." Journal of Women's Health 19 (2): 267-271.

Authors: Sally G. Haskell, Kirsha S. Gordon, Dristen Mattocks, Mona Duggal, Joseph Erdos, Amy Justice, Cynthia A. Brandt

Abstract:

Purpose: The current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to an increasing number of female veterans seeking medical and mental healthcare in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system. To better understand gender differences in healthcare needs among recently returned veterans, we examined the prevalence of positive screenings for depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), military sexual trauma ( MST), obesity, and chronic pain among female and male veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom=Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF=OIF) receiving care at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System.

Methods: We performed a retrospective, cross-sectional data analysis of OEF=OIF veterans at VA Connecticut who received services in either Primary Care or the Women’s Health Clinic between 2001 and 2006. 

Results: In this study, 1129 electronic medical records (1032 men, 197 women) were examined. Female veterans were more likely to screen positive for MST (14% vs. 1%, p < 0.001) and depression (48% vs. 39%, p ¼ 0.01) and less likely to screen positive for PTSD (21% vs. 33%, p ¼ 0.002). There was no significant gender difference in clinically significant pain scores. Men were more likely than women to have body mass index (BMI) >30 kg=m2 (21% vs. 13%, p ¼ 0.008).

Conclusions: These results suggest that important gender differences exist in the prevalence of positive screenings for MST, depression, obesity, and PTSD. As the VA continues to review and improve its services for women veterans, clinicians, researchers, and senior leaders should consider innovative ways to ensure that female veterans receive the health services they need within the VA system.

Keywords: depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, obesity, military sexual assault, female veterans, male veterans

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Sexual Violence Regions: MENA, Americas, North America, Asia, Middle East, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, United States of America

Year: 2010

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