Special Collection on Women Veterans’ Health

In honor of Veterans Day, the editorial team at Women’s Health Issues has assembled a special collection of research published in the journal since the 2011 special supplement "Health and Health Care of Women Veterans and Women in the Military." WHI has a long history of publishing work on women veterans. In particular, recent publications have addressed mental health and healthcare services. Additional areas of research include reproductive health, military sexual trauma, and cardiovascular health among women veterans. (Complete citations for all articles appear below.)

Researchers publishing in WHI on these topics are exploring gender disparities; the impact of co-morbidities and social determinants of health on chronic diseases; and the overall quality, coordination of care, and use of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) system. Their research shows an increased focus on the distinct experiences of women veterans and their overall health risks and quality of care in the VHA. Findings demonstrate a need for increased gender-specific care, which the VA and other providers can accomplish through new programs, policies, and coordinated care efforts. Of particular note are recent findings related to women veterans’ mental health.

We are making all of these articles open access (no subscription necessary) for the month of November 2014 so that they are available to a wider interested audience.

Mental Health

Mental health conditions explored in the research include posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, depression, and other psychiatric disorders. Researchers explored the status of VA mental health care, gender differences, mental health comorbidities, and physical health conditions among women veterans with mental health diagnoses. Three of these five studies focused on women veterans who had been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan within the past decade.

Researchers demonstrated an increasing interest in learning how mental-health conditions affect reproductive and physical health outcomes for women. Findings provide additional support for VA initiatives to increase comprehensive care. One study specifically explored the relationship between PTSD and military sexual trauma (MST) (Maguen et al, January-February 2012), while another study focused on the likelihood of veterans with mental health disorders such as PTSD, depression, or anxiety receiving an eating disorder diagnosis (Maguen et al, July-August 2012).

A third study compared the rates of cervical cancer screening among women veterans with PTSD or depression and those without, and found that psychiatric illness (PTSD or depression) had little to no effect on use of cervical cancer screening; however, researchers did find that women who had one of those diagnoses and were also high users of primary care services were less likely to receive the screening than those who had high use of primary care but no psychiatric illness diagnosis (Weitlauf et al, 2013). An analysis of medical records found that women veterans with mental health diagnoses had a greater prevalence of reproductive health diagnoses, including sexually transmitted infections, compared to women veterans without mental health diagnoses (Cohen et al, 2012).

The authors of these studies highlighted several understudied topics, including certain psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, the effects of deployment on women veterans’ families, strategies to address treatment access, and the need for gender-sensitive mental healthcare.

Several of these authors noted that the population of women veterans is growing and projected to continue increasing over the next decade. Women veterans’ accessing of outpatient mental health services has already increased by one-third since 2000 (Runnals et al, 2014). Moving forward, it will be important to coordinate care, provide effective gender-specific mental health services, and continue to explore the relationship between different mental-health conditions.

Mental Health

Systematic Review of Women Veterans' Mental Health
Jennifer J. Runnals, Natara Garovoy, Susan J. McCutcheon, Allison T. Robbins, Monica C. Mann-Wrobel, Alyssa Elliott, Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 6 Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Centers' (MIRECC) Women Veterans Workgroup, Jennifer L. Strauss
Volume 24, Issue 5 (September-October 2014)

Receipt of Cervical Cancer Screening in Female Veterans: Impact of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Depression
Julie C. Weitlauf, Surai Jones, Xiangyan Xu, John W. Finney, Rudolf H. Moos, George F. Sawaya, Susan M. Frayne
Volume 23, Issue 3 (May-June 2013)

Reproductive and Other Health Outcomes in Iraq and Afghanistan Women Veterans Using VA Health Care: Association with Mental Health Diagnoses
Beth E. Cohen, Shira Maguen, Daniel Bertenthal, Ying Shi, Vanessa Jacoby, Karen H. Seal
Volume 22, Issue 5 (September-October 2012)

Eating Disorders and Psychiatric Comorbidity among Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans
Shira Maguen, Beth Cohen, Greg Cohen, Erin Madden, Daniel Bertenthal, Karen Seal
Volume 22, Issue 4 (July-August 2012)

Gender Differences in Military Sexual Trauma and Mental Health Diagnoses among Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Shira Maguen, Beth Cohen, Li Ren, Jeane Bosch, Rachel Kimerling, Karen Seal
Volume 22, Issue 1 (January-February 2012)

Healthcare Services

Association between Women Veterans' Experiences with VA Outpatient Health Care and Designation as a Women's Health Provider in Primary Care Clinics
Lori A. Bastian, Mark Trentalange, Terrence E. Murphy, Cynthia Brandt, Bevanne Bean-Mayberry, Natalya C. Maisel, Steven M. Wright, Vera S. Gaetano, Heather Allore, Melissa Skanderson, Evelyn Reyes-Harvey, Elizabeth M. Yano, Danielle Rose, Sally Haskell
Volume 24, Issue 6 (November-December 2014)

Anticipating the Traumatic Brain Injury–Related Health Care Needs of Women Veterans After the Department of Defense Change in Combat Assignment Policy
Jomana Amara, Katherine M. Iverson, Maxine Krengel, Terri K. Pogoda, Ann Hendricks
Volume 24 , Issue 2 (March-April 2014)

National Comparison of Literally Homeless Male and Female VA Service Users: Entry Characteristics, Clinical Needs, and Service Patterns
Jack Tsai, Wesley J. Kasprow, Vincent Kane, Robert A. Rosenheck
Volume 24, Issue 1 (January-February 2014)

Caregiving Experiences and Health Conditions of Women Veteran and Non-Veteran Caregivers
Sherri L. LaVela, Bella Etingen, Theresa Louise-Bender Pape
Volume 23, Issue 4 (July-August 2013)

Intimate Partner Violence: Perspectives on Universal Screening for Women in VHA Primary Care
Alison C. Sweeney, Julie C. Weitlauf, Elizabeth A. Manning, Jocelyn A. Sze, Angela E. Waldrop, Caitlin Hasser
Volume 23, Issue 2 (March-April 2013)

Trends in Rates and Attributable Costs of Conditions among Female VA Patients, 2000 and 2008
Jean Yoon, Jennifer Y. Scott, Ciaran S. Phibbs, Susan M. Frayne
Volume 22, Issue 3 (May-June 2012)

Organizational Factors Associated with Screening for Military Sexual Trauma
Jenny K. Hyun, Rachel Kimerling, Ruth C. Cronkite, Susan McCutcheon, Susan M. Frayne
Volume 22, Issue 2 (March-April 2012)

Reproductive Health

Association of Copayment and Socioeconomic Status with Hormonal Contraceptive Adherence in a Female Veteran Population
Rashid Kazerooni, Khanh Vu, Atsuhiko Takizawa, Christine Broadhead, Anthony P. Morreale
Volume 24, Issue 2 (March-April 2014)

Five-year Trends in Women Veterans' Use of VA Maternity Benefits, 2008–2012
Kristin M. Mattocks, Susan Frayne, Ciaran S. Phibbs, Elizabeth M. Yano, Laurie Zephyrin, Holly Shryock, Sally Haskell, Jodie Katon, J. Cherry Sullivan, Linda Weinreb, Christine Ulbricht, Lori A. Bastian
Volume 24, Issue 1 (January-February 2014)

Military Sexual Trauma

Unit Support Protects Against Sexual Harassment and Assault Among National Guard Soldiers
Kate Walsh, Sandro Galea, Magdalena Cerda, Catherine Richards, Israel Liberzon, Marijo B. Tamburrino, Joseph Calabrese, Karestan C. Koenen
Volume 24, Issue 6 (November-December 2014)

Military Sexual Assault and Homeless Women Veterans: Clinical Correlates and Treatment Preferences
Suzanne E. Decker, Robert A. Rosenheck, Jack Tsai, Rani Hoff, Ilan Harpaz-Rotem
Volume 23, Issue 6 (November-December 2013)

Combat Deployment Is Associated with Sexual Harassment or Sexual Assault in a Large, Female Military Cohort
Cynthia A. LeardMann, Amanda Pietrucha, Kathryn M. Magruder, Besa Smith, Maureen Murdoch, Isabel G. Jacobson, Margaret A.K. Ryan, Gary Gackstetter, Tyler C. Smith, Millennium Cohort Study Team
Volume 23, Issue 4 (July-August 2013)

Cardiovascular Health

Heart Matters: Gender and Racial Differences Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factor Control Among Veterans
Karen M. Goldstein, S. Dee Melnyk, Leah L. Zullig, Karen M. Stechuchak, Eugene Oddone, Lori A. Bastian, Susan Rakley, Maren K. Olsen, Hayden B. Bosworth
Volume 24, Issue 5 (September-October 2014)

Sex Differences in Patient and Provider Response to Elevated Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol
Sally G. Haskell, Harini Bathulapalli, Tan Pham, Joseph Goulet, Melissa Skanderson, Mary Driscoll, Cynthia Brandt, James Dziura
Volume 24, Issue 5 (September-October 2014)

Decomposing Gender Differences in Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol among Veterans with or at Risk for Cardiovascular Illness
Usha Sambamoorthi, Sophie Mitra, Patricia Findley
Volume 23, Issue 2 (March-April 2013)

Additional Research - Special Supplement

2011 Women’s Health Issues Supplement (Open Access): “Health and Health Care of Women Veterans and Women in the Military