Online Program

Differences in self-rated health between u. s. male and female veterans

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 2:30 p.m. - 2:42 p.m.

Joyce Wang, Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Jamaica Plain, MA
Lewina Lee, National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, Jamaica Plain, MA
Avron Spiro III, Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Jamaica Plain, MA
Male Veterans generally have worse physical and mental health compared to civilians, but less is known about the relative health of female Veterans. With an increasing number of women now serving in the military, the long-term implications of their service should be considered. In this study, we examined the self-rated health of a nationally representative sample of male (n=6,969) and female (n=481) Veterans. The 2010 National Survey of Veterans included a mailed questionnaire with a web survey option. Male Veterans were more likely to be older (66 vs. 52), White (88% vs. 74%), and married (75% vs. 50%), compared to female Veterans. Given these differences, we examined men and women separately using multiple regression to identify correlates of self-reported health. For both genders, older age and minority status were associated with worse health, while higher education and income were associated with better health. We also examined two aspects of military service (served in a warzone, exposed to casualties) independently and multiplicatively. Among men, exposure to casualties was associated with worse health; among women, those who served in a warzone and were exposed to casualties had marginally worse health. Given the high percentage of women under 35 who served in a warzone (46% women, 65% men), and the recent Pentagon decision allowing them to serve in combat, women's warzone exposure is only expected to increase in the future. As the deployment experience becomes objectively more similar for men and women, so may the effects of military service similarly influence their health.

Learning Areas:

Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify correlates of self-reported health in male and female veterans. Differentiate between male and female veteran demographics, exposure statuses, and health across age strata.

Keyword(s): Aging, Veterans' Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a research assistant on multiple federally funded grants investigating associations between demographic and deployment risk and resilience factors and health outcomes. In particular, I have previously examined gender differences in these associations.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.