HealthViEWS: Mortality Study of Female US Vietnam Era Veterans, 1965-2010
ABSTRACT We conducted a retrospective study among 4,734 women who served in the US military in Vietnam (Vietnam cohort), 2,062 women who served in countries near Vietnam (near-Vietnam cohort), and 5,313 nondeployed US military women (US cohort) to evaluate the associations of mortality outcomes with Vietnam War service. Veterans were identified from military records and followed for 40 years through December 31, 2010. Information on underlying causes of death was obtained from death certificates and the National Death Index. Based on 2,743 deaths, all 3 veteran cohorts had lower mortality risk from all causes combined and from several major causes, such as diabetes mellitus, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and nervous system disease relative to comparable US women. However, excess deaths from motor vehicle accidents were observed in the Vietnam cohort (standardized mortality ratio = 3.67, 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.30, 5.56) and in the US cohort (standardized mortality ratio = 1.91, 95% CI: 1.02, 3.27). More than two-thirds of women in the study were military nurses. Nurses in the Vietnam cohort had a 2-fold higher risk of pancreatic cancer death (adjusted relative risk = 2.07, 95% CI: 1.00, 4.25) and an almost 5-fold higher risk of brain cancer death compared with nurses in the US cohort (adjusted relative risk = 4.61, 95% CI: 1.27, 16.83). Findings of all-cause and motor vehicle accident deaths among female Vietnam veterans were consistent with patterns of postwar mortality risk among other war veterans.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: This study examined gender differences in the impact of warfare exposure on self-reported physical health. Data are from the 2010 National Survey of Veterans, a nationally representative survey of veterans from multiple eras of service. Regression analyses assessed gender differences in the association between warfare exposure (deployment to a war zone, exposure to casualties) and health status and functional impairment, adjusting for sociodemographics. Women reported better health status but greater functional impairment than men. Among men, those who experienced casualties only or both casualties and deployment to a war zone had worse health compared with those who experienced neither stressor or deployment to a war zone only. Among women, those who experienced casualties only or both stressors reported worse health than those who experienced war zone only, who did not differ from the unexposed. No association was found between warfare exposure and functional impairment in women; in men, however, those who experienced exposure to casualties or both stressors had greater odds of functional impairment compared with those who experienced war zone only or neither stressor. Exposure to casualties may be more predictive of health than deployment to a war zone, especially for men. We did not find a stronger association between warfare exposure and health for women than men. Given that the expansion of women's military roles has allowed them to serve in direct combat, their degree and scope of warfare exposure is likely to increase in the future. Copyright © 2014 Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.Women s Health Issues 11/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.whi.2014.09.003 · 1.61 Impact Factor