COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Gender differences in health service utilization among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder

Shira Maguen, Beth Cohen, Greg Cohen, Erin Madden, Daniel Bertenthal, Karen Seal
Journal of Women's Health 2012, 21 (6): 666-73
22313026

BACKGROUND: Little is known about gender differences in healthcare use among newly returning veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We investigated gender differences in Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center health service use among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with PTSD with and without comorbid depression and alcohol use disorders (AUD).

METHODS: Using VA administrative data, bivariate and multivariate statistics were used to examine gender differences in health service use among 159,705 Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) veterans with PTSD seeking VA healthcare from October 7, 2001, to December 31, 2010.

RESULTS: Female veterans with PTSD were more likely to be black and single and to have higher mental health, primary care, and emergency care use compared to men with PTSD. Men were more likely to have higher mental health inpatient use compared to women. Women and men with comorbid PTSD and depression or comorbid PTSD and AUD were more likely to have higher use in all domains compared to their counterparts with PTSD without these comorbid disorders. Women with comorbid PTSD and depression were 12.5 times more likely to have a mental health inpatient hospitalization compared to their female counterparts without depression and twice as likely to have a mental health hospitalization compared to men with comorbid PTSD and depression.

CONCLUSIONS: Women with PTSD had higher use than men in almost all areas, as did all veterans with comorbid PTSD and depression and comorbid PTSD and AUD, regardless of gender. Better understanding these health service use differences will allow for targeted evaluation and integrated treatment interventions in veterans with PTSD.

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