Systematic review of women veterans' mental health.
BACKGROUND: Given recent, rapid growth in the field of women veterans' mental health, the goal of this review was to update the status of women veterans' mental health research and to identify current themes in this literature. The scope of this review included women veterans' unique mental health needs, as well as gender differences in veterans' mental health needs. METHODS: Database searches were conducted for relevant articles published between January 2008 and July 2011. Searches were supplemented with bibliographic reviews and consultation with subject matter experts. FINDINGS: The database search yielded 375 titles; 32 met inclusion/exclusion criteria. The women veterans' mental health literature crosses over several domains, including prevalence, risk factors, health care utilization, treatment preferences, and access barriers. Studies were generally cross-sectional, descriptive, mixed-gender, and examined Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care users from all service eras. Results indicate higher rates of specific disorders (e.g., depression) and comorbidities, with differing risk factors and associated medical and functional impairment for female compared with male veterans. Although satisfaction with VA health care is generally high, unique barriers to care and indices of treatment satisfaction exist for women. CONCLUSIONS: There is a breadth of descriptive knowledge in many content areas of women veterans' mental health; however, the research base examining interventional and longitudinal designs is less developed. Understudied content areas and targets for future research and development include certain psychiatric disorders (e.g., schizophrenia), the effects of deployment on woman veterans' families, and strategies to address treatment access, attrition, and provision of gender-sensitive care.
Runnals, JJ; Garovoy, N; McCutcheon, SJ; Robbins, AT; Mann-Wrobel, MC; Elliott, A; Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 6 Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Centers' (MIRECC) Women Veterans Workgroup,
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