142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

More things they carried: Adverse childhood experiences and mental health indicators among current and former military men

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Monday, November 17, 2014 : 10:50 AM - 11:10 AM

John R. Blosnich, PhD, MPH , Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, Department of Veterans Affairs, Pittsburgh, PA
Robert Bossarte, Ph.D. , VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)  (e.g., parental divorce, physical and sexual abuse) are linked robustly with poor mental health such as depression and suicidality in adults. Current and former military personnel have higher prevalence of ACEs than their non-military experienced peers. It is unclear how ACEs may explain differences in mental health between persons with and without military service history.

Method: To examine how ACEs associated with mental health among military-experienced men, we examined 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data for men from eleven states that used the 11-item ACEs inventory (n=23,851). We used multivariable logistic regression, adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, education, and income, to test the association of military status with four mental health indicators (low social support, inadequate sleep, low satisfaction with life, and mental distress), current smoking, and heavy alcohol use. Adjusted Wald tests were used to examine the salience of military status before and after adjusting for ACEs. All analyses were weighted for complex survey design.

Findings: Men with military service history reported higher mean scores on the ACEs inventory than non-military men (2.49 vs. 1.49, p<.001) and had higher odds of inadequate sleep, mental distress, and current smoking. ACEs significantly attenuated the association of military status with inadequate sleep and current smoking, and decreased the association with mental distress from OR=2.02 (1.45-2.81) to OR=1.49 (1.08-2.04).

Implications: Early life trauma in the form of adverse childhood experiences may be an overlooked facet of current and former military personnel mental health.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss why adverse childhood experiences may be elevated among current and former military personnel Describe implications of adverse childhood experiences on mental health among current and former military personnel

Keyword(s): Mental Health, Veterans' Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have published several studies that use the BRFSS dataset, including 2 papers that use the adverse childhood experiences data.
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.