Purpose: Many veterans face difficulties related to physical and mental health issues, but little is known about how these are related within veterans in the general population. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between current mental health, health problems, and activity limitations in population-based samples of veterans aged 25 years and older.
Methods: This cross sectional analysis used 2015 data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) for veterans aged 25 and older from Oklahoma, Virginia, and Washington. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to assess the relationship between current mental health, health conditions, and activity limitations after controlling alcohol use and demographic variables.
Results: Across states, most veterans aged 25 and older reported good current mental health (77-81%), about half reported 3 or more health conditions (40-54%), and about one-fourth reported activity limitations (17-28%). After controlling for alcohol use and demographic factors, good current mental health was inversely related to health conditions and activity limitations in all three states with moderate to high effect sizes.
Conclusion: The results of this study indicated that current mental health among veterans aged 25 years and older in general populations is significantly related to health conditions, activity limitations, and gender. Because of moderate to high relations, primary care practitioners should screen for mental health, health conditions, and activity limitations if a veteran, especially a female veteran, presents with any of these, and then educate, treat, and provide referral services as comorbid conditions versus separate issues.
Jennifer A Knickerbocker, Juliana C Mcelroy and Jessica L Hartos
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