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Health Services Research & Development

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Characteristics and Health Needs of Veterans in Jails and Prisons: What We Know and Do Not Know about Incarcerated Women Veterans.

McCall JD, Tsai J. Characteristics and Health Needs of Veterans in Jails and Prisons: What We Know and Do Not Know about Incarcerated Women Veterans. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2018 Mar 1; 28(2):172-180.

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PURPOSE: The majority of U.S. veterans in prisons and local jails are men, but incarcerated women veterans remain an important and understudied group. METHODS: This study reported differences in sociodemographic, health, and criminal justice characteristics using Veterans Affairs (VA) administrative data on a national sample of 30,964 incarcerated veterans (30,440 men and 524 women) who received outreach from the VA Health Care for Reentry Veterans program between 2007 and 2011. Descriptive statistics and multivariable logistic regressions determined gender and racial differences in this population. RESULTS: Compared with incarcerated veterans who were men, incarcerated women veterans were younger (d  =  0.68), had significantly lower lifetime arrests (AOR, 0.65; p  <  .001; 99% CI, 0.49-0.87), and were less likely to have been incarcerated for a violent offense (AOR, 0.47; p  <  .001; 99% CI, 0.35-0.63). Notably, 58% of women were of reproductive age. Women were more likely to have reported eye problems, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and seizure disorder, and were more likely to receive a preliminary diagnosis of mood disorder than men. Women were more likely to have received VA benefits, used VA health care before, and be willing to use VA services after release. A few important differences emerged when stratified by race. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that incarcerated women veterans are interested in VA health care services, but there is lack of information about women's health needs through the Health Care for Reentry Veterans program. The inclusion of Health Care for Reentry Veterans screening questions about women's health issues may support the VA's interests to better engage women veterans in care.

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