COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Female Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan seeking care from VA specialized PTSD Programs: comparison with male veterans and female war zone veterans of previous eras

Alan Fontana, Robert Rosenheck, Rani Desai
Journal of Women's Health 2010, 19 (4): 751-7
20210538

BACKGROUND: Differences in the characteristics and mental health needs of female veterans of the Iraq/Afghanistan war compared with those of veterans of other wars may have useful implications for VA program and treatment planning.

METHODS: Female veterans reporting service in the Iraq/Afghanistan war were compared with women reporting service in the Persian Gulf and Vietnam wars and to men reporting service in the Iraq/Afghanistan war. Subjects were drawn from VA administrative data on veterans who sought outpatient treatment from specialized posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment programs. A series of analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to control for program site and age.

RESULTS: In general, Iraq/Afghanistan and Persian Gulf women had less severe psychopathology and more social supports than did Vietnam women. In turn, Iraq/Afghanistan women had less severe psychopathology than Persian Gulf women and were exposed to less sexual and noncombat nonsexual trauma than their Persian Gulf counterparts. Notable differences were also found between female and male veterans of the Iraq/Afghanistan war. Women had fewer interpersonal and economic supports, had greater exposure to different types of trauma, and had different levels of diverse types of pathology than their male counterparts.

CONCLUSIONS: There appear to be sufficient differences within women reporting service in different war eras and between women and men receiving treatment in VA specialized treatment programs for PTSD that consideration should be given to program planning and design efforts that address these differences in every program treating female veterans reporting war zone service.

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