Sexual Victimization, Health Status, and VA Healthcare Utilization Among Lesbian and Bisexual OEF/OIF Veterans
- Kristin M. MattocksAffiliated withVA Central Western MassachusettsDepartment of Quantitative Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Medical School Email author
- , Anne SadlerAffiliated withComprehensive Access & Delivery Research and Evaluation (CADRE), Mental Health Service Line, Iowa City VA Health Care SystemDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
- , Elizabeth M. YanoAffiliated withVA Greater Los Angeles HSR&D Center of Excellence for the Study of Healthcare Provider BehaviorUCLA School of Public Health
- , Erin E. KrebsAffiliated withCenter for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research, Minneapolis VA Health Care SystemUniversity of Minnesota Medical School
- , Laurie ZephyrinAffiliated withDepartment of Veterans Affairs
- , Cynthia BrandtAffiliated withVA Connecticut Healthcare SystemYale University School of Medicine
- , Rachel KimerlingAffiliated withNational Center for PTSD, Center for Health Care Evaluation, VA Palo Alto Health Care System
- , Theo SandfortAffiliated withHIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, Columbia University
- , Melissa E. DichterAffiliated withCenter for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP), Philadelphia VA Medical Center
- and 3 more
- , Jeffrey J. WeissAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
- , Jeroan AllisonAffiliated withDepartment of Quantitative Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Medical School
- , Sally HaskellAffiliated withVA Connecticut Healthcare SystemYale University School of Medicine
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Many lesbian and bisexual (LB) women veterans may have been targets of victimization in the military based on their gender and presumed sexual orientation, and yet little is known regarding the health or mental health of LB veterans, nor the degree to which they feel comfortable receiving care in the VA.
The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence of mental health and gender-specific conditions, VA healthcare satisfaction and trauma exposure among LB veterans receiving VA care compared with heterosexually-identified women veterans receiving.
Prospective cohort study of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) women veterans at two large VA facilities.
Three hundred and sixty five women veterans that completed a baseline survey. Thirty-five veterans (9.6 %) identified as gay or lesbian (4.7 %), or bisexual (4.9 %).
Measures included sexual orientation, military sexual trauma, mental and gender-specific health diagnoses, and VA healthcare utilization and satisfaction.
LB OEF/OIF veterans were significantly more likely to have experienced both military and childhood sexual trauma than heterosexual women (MST: 31 % vs. 13 %, p < .001; childhood sexual trauma: 60 % vs. 36 %, p = .01), to be hazardous drinkers (32 % vs. 16 %, p = .03) and rate their current mental health as worse than before deployment (35 % vs. 16 %, p < .001).
Many LB veterans have experienced sexual victimization, both within the military and as children, and struggle with substance abuse and poor mental health. Health care providers working with female Veterans should be aware of high rates of military sexual trauma and childhood abuse and refer women to appropriate VA treatment and support groups for sequelae of these experiences. Future research should focus on expanding this study to include a larger and more diverse sample of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender veterans receiving care at VA facilities across the country.
KEY WORDSlesbian health services research Veterans women
- Sexual Victimization, Health Status, and VA Healthcare Utilization Among Lesbian and Bisexual OEF/OIF Veterans
- Open Access
- Available under Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Journal of General Internal Medicine
Volume 28, Issue 2 Supplement, pp 604-608
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- Kristin M. Mattocks PhD, MPH (1) (2)
- Anne Sadler PhD, RN (3) (4)
- Elizabeth M. Yano PhD, MSPH (5) (6)
- Erin E. Krebs MD, MPH (7) (8)
- Laurie Zephyrin MD, MPH, MBA (9)
- Cynthia Brandt MD, MPH (10) (11)
- Rachel Kimerling PhD (12)
- Theo Sandfort PhD (13)
- Melissa E. Dichter PhD, MSW (14)
- Jeffrey J. Weiss PhD, MS (15)
- Jeroan Allison MD, MS (2)
- Sally Haskell MD (10) (11)
- Author Affiliations
- 1. VA Central Western Massachusetts, Leeds, MA, USA
- 2. Department of Quantitative Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA
- 3. Comprehensive Access & Delivery Research and Evaluation (CADRE), Mental Health Service Line, Iowa City VA Health Care System, Iowa City, IA, USA
- 4. Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA, USA
- 5. VA Greater Los Angeles HSR&D Center of Excellence for the Study of Healthcare Provider Behavior, Sepulveda, CA, USA
- 6. UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA, USA
- 7. Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research, Minneapolis VA Health Care System, Minneapolis, MN, USA
- 8. University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN, USA
- 9. Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC, USA
- 10. VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, CT, USA
- 11. Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA
- 12. National Center for PTSD, Center for Health Care Evaluation, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Menlo Park, CA, USA
- 13. HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
- 14. Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP), Philadelphia VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA
- 15. Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA