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Self-reported stressors of National Guard women veterans before and after deployment: the relevance of interpersonal relationships.

Yan GW, McAndrew L, D'Andrea EA, Lange G, Santos SL, Engel CC, Quigley KS. Self-reported stressors of National Guard women veterans before and after deployment: the relevance of interpersonal relationships. Journal of general internal medicine. 2013 Jul 1; 28 Suppl 2:S549-55.

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BACKGROUND: With their rapidly expanding roles in the military, women service members experience significant stressors throughout their deployment experience. However, there are few studies that examine changes in women Veterans' stressors before and after deployment. OBJECTIVE: This study examines the types of stressors women Veterans report before deployment, immediately after deployment, 3 months after deployment, and 1 year post-deployment. DESIGN: Descriptive data on reported stressors was collected at four time points of a longitudinal study (HEROES Project). Open-ended responses from the Coping Response Inventory (CRI) were coded into six possible major stressor categories for analysis. PARTICIPANTS: Seventy-nine Army National Guard and Reserve female personnel deploying to Operation Enduring Freedom (OFF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) were surveyed prior to deployment. Of these participants, 35 women completed Phase 2, 41 completed Phase 3, and 48 completed Phase 4 of the study. KEY RESULTS: We identified six major stressor categories: (1) interpersonal (i.e., issues with family and/or friends), (2) deployment-related and military-related, (3) health concerns, (4) death of a loved one, (5) daily needs (i.e., financial/housing/transportation concerns), and (6) employment or school-related concerns. At all time points, interpersonal issues were one of the most common type of stressor for this sample. Daily needs concerns increased from 3 months post-deployment to 1 year post-deployment. CONCLUSIONS: Interpersonal concerns are commonly reported by women Veterans both before and after their combat experience, suggesting that this is a time during which interpersonal support is especially critical. We discuss implications, which include the need for a more coordinated approach to women Veterans' health care (e.g., greater community-based outreach), and the need for more and more accessible Veterans Affairs (VA) services to address the needs of female Veterans.

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