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Psychosocial Factors that Shape Substance Abuse and Related Mental Health of Women Military Veterans who Use Community-Based Services.
Evans EA, Glover DL, Washington DL, Hamilton AB. Psychosocial Factors that Shape Substance Abuse and Related Mental Health of Women Military Veterans who Use Community-Based Services. Substance use & misuse. 2018 Sep 19; 53(11):1878-1892.
Women Veterans who use the Veterans Health Administration (VA) have high rates of substance abuse and poorer health than non-Veteran women. Less is known about the psychosocial needs of women Veterans who seek care in non-VA settings.
We provide a grounded description of factors that impact substance abuse, mental health, and related quality of life of women Veterans who use non-VA community-based health and social services.
Utilizing a mixed methods design, we conducted semi-structured in-person interviews with 22 women Veterans in Los Angeles in 2013-2015.
The current health of these women Veterans was shaped by substance abuse and several other factors, including: histories of trauma (in childhood, during military service) and discrimination, and associated mental health conditions; post-military socio-economic stressors; shifting social roles and adverse social support; and lost personal identity after military service. Psychosocial factors collectively underscore areas in which delivery of health and social services to women Veterans being treated in non-VA settings could be improved: (1) diffuse, implement, and sustain evidence-based gender-sensitive substance abuse treatment; (2) address traumas contributing to poor health; (3) recognize stress proliferation processes erode women's capacity to access healthcare or cope with stressors in healthy ways; (4) champion women Veterans who embody resilience and thereby can help others to form empowered personal identities of health and wellness.
Findings can inform interventions and services that ameliorate vulnerability to substance abuse and other health risks among women Veterans.