Women's Health Issues Launches Special Collection on Women Veterans' Health

Journal highlights health issues facing female veterans, including high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder

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

WASHINGTON, DC (November 6, 2014)—In honor of Veterans Day, the peer-reviewed journal Women's Health Issues (WHI) today released a new Special Collection on women veterans’ health, with a focus on mental health. The special collection also highlights recent studies addressing healthcare services, reproductive health and cardiovascular health of women veterans.

“In recent years, we have seen the Veterans Administration working to improve care and health outcomes of women veterans and service members,” said Chloe Bird, editor-in-chief of Women’s Health Issues. “The studies published in Women’s Health Issues can help inform efforts to provide the highest quality of care to the growing population of women veterans.”

Women’s Health Issues is the official journal of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health, which is based at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. This Special Collection includes articles published after the WHI 2011 special supplement “Health and Health Care of Women Veterans and Women in the Military,” which is available free of charge online.

Among the featured articles on women veterans’ mental health, is a systematic review of recent literature on this subject by Jennifer J. Runnals, PhD, and colleagues from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Duke University Medical Center, which appeared in WHI’s September-October 2014 issue. The authors note that since 2000, the VA has witnessed a 33% increase in the proportion of women accessing outpatient mental health services, and new female VA users are often younger and show an increased use of VA healthcare services.

“The VA's commitment to ensuring equitable access to high-quality health care for women veterans of all ages has fueled a burgeoning field of research,” Runnals and her colleagues explain in their review of 32 recent studies on women veterans’ mental health. Their findings include the following:

  • Compared to male veterans, female veterans had similar rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), higher rates of anxiety disorders and depression, and significant mental health and medical comorbidities.
  • For both genders, multiple deployments and post-deployment relationship disruption were associated with increased risk for PTSD.
  • Barriers to women’s utilization of  the VA healthcare system included economic, organizational, and patient factors such as poor health.

The authors of the systematic review identify several content areas where additional research would be useful. These areas include best practices for the provision of gender-sensitive care; strategies to address treatment access and retention; and the impact of family reintegration and relationship disruption on women veterans’ mental health.

The Women’s Health Issues Special Collection on Women Veterans’ Health is available here, and all articles can be accessed for free until the end of November 2014. The 2011 Women’s Health Issues supplement “Health and Health Care of Women Veterans and Women in the Military” is available at http://www.whijournal.com/issue/S1049-3867(11)X0006-3, and all articles are open-access.


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.

About Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University:
Established in July 1997 as the School of Public Health and Health Services, Milken Institute School of Public Health is the only school of public health in the nation’s capital. Today, nearly 1,534 students from almost every U.S. state and more than 45 countries pursue undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level degrees in public health. The school also offers an online Master of Public Health, MPH@GW, and an online Executive Master of Health Administration, MHA@GW, which allow students to pursue their degree from anywhere in the world.