New Study in Women’s Health Issues: Health of Postmenopausal Women Veterans

Media Contact: Kathy Fackelmann, kfackelmann@gwu.edu, 202-994-8354

WASHINGTON, DC (September 29,  2015)—A new study using data from the Women's Health Initiative found that risk of all-cause mortality was higher among postmenopausal women veterans than among postmenopausal non-veterans despite similar risk for postmenopausal cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, or hip fractures. The study, "Prospective Analysis of Health and Mortality Risk in Veteran and Non-Veteran Participants in the Women’s Health Initiative," has been published online ahead of print and will appear in the November/December issue of the journal Women's Health Issues.

The lead author of the study is Julie Weitlauf, Ph.D., Director of the Women’s Mental Health and Aging Core of the VISN 21 Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center of the Veterans Administration Palo Alto Health Care System and Clinical Associate Professor (Affiliated) of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. She and her colleagues analyzed data from the Women's Health Initiative on postmenopausal women—141,009 non-veterans and 3,706 veterans—who were between ages 50 and 79 when they enrolled. Participants were recruited from 1993 to 1998 at 40 sites around the U.S., and this study uses follow-up data collected through 2011 with annual questionnaires and medical examinations.

This is one of the first large-scale investigations of postmenopausal health among women veterans. Moreover, as nearly half of the veteran women participants in the Women’s Health Initiative are of ages consistent with eligibility for military service prior to the Vietnam war, this study represents one of the only to date to address postmenopausal health and mortality risk among the oldest generation of women veterans living in the U.S. today—those who served in World War II and the Korean War. Though examination of the mechanistic factors underlying heightened mortality risk among women veteran participants in WHI were beyond the scope of this work, the authors recommend that future research further explore risk factors such as smoking and specific forms of cancer affecting postmenopausal women veterans. "It is our hope that this work will encourage further research efforts that will further deepen our understanding of this unique population of women," they conclude.

The full text of this article is available for free on the Women's Health Issues website. For more studies on women veterans, see the journal's 2015 Special Collection on Women Veterans' Health and the 2011 special supplement Health and Health Care of Women Veterans and Women in the Military.

 

About Women’s Health Issues:
Women's Health Issues is the official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health, and the only journal devoted exclusively to women's health care and policy issues. The journal has a particular focus on women's issues in the context of the U.S. health care delivery system and policymaking processes, although it invites submissions addressing women's health care issues in global context if relevant to North American readers. It is a journal for health professionals, social scientists, policymakers, and others concerned with the complex and diverse facets of health care delivery and policy for women. For more information about the journal, please visit http://www.whijournal.com