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Health Indicators for Military, Veteran, and Civilian Women

      Background

      Women who have served in the military are a rapidly growing population. No previous studies have compared directly their health status to that of civilians.

      Purpose

      To provide estimates of several leading U.S. health indicators by military service status among women.

      Methods

      Data were obtained from the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, a U.S. population-based study. Health outcomes were compared by military status using multivariable logistic regression among the female participants (274,399 civilians, 4221 veterans, 661 active duty, and 995 National Guard or Reserves [NG/R]). Data were analyzed in August 2011.

      Results

      Veterans reported poorer general health and greater incidence of health risk behaviors, mental health conditions, and chronic health conditions than civilian women. Active duty women reported better access to health care, better physical health, less engagement in health risk behaviors, and greater likelihood of having had a recent Pap than civilian women. Women from the NG/R were comparable to civilians across most health domains, although they had a greater likelihood of being overweight or obese and reporting a depressive and anxiety disorder.

      Conclusions

      Compared with civilian women, NG/R women rated their health and access to health care similarly and active duty women rated theirs better on several domains, but veterans consistently reported poorer health.
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