HSR&D Citation Abstract
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Sex differences in mental health and substance use disorders and treatment entry among justice-involved Veterans in the Veterans Health Administration.
Finlay AK, Binswanger IA, Smelson D, Sawh L, McGuire J, Rosenthal J, Blue-Howells J, Timko C, Blodgett JC, Harris AH, Asch SM, Frayne S. Sex differences in mental health and substance use disorders and treatment entry among justice-involved Veterans in the Veterans Health Administration. Medical care. 2015 Apr 1; 53(4 Suppl 1):S105-11.
Over half of veterans in the criminal justice system have mental health or substance use disorders. However, there is a critical lack of information about female veterans in the criminal justice system and how diagnosis prevalence and treatment entry differ by sex.
To document prevalence of mental health and substance use disorder diagnoses and treatment entry rates among female veterans compared with male veterans in the justice system.
Retrospective cohort study using national Veterans Health Administration clinical/administrative data from veterans seen by Veterans Justice Outreach Specialists in fiscal years 2010-2012.
A total of 1535 females and 30,478 male veterans were included.
Demographic characteristics (eg, sex, age, residence, homeless status), mental health disorders (eg, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder), substance use disorders (eg, alcohol and opioid use disorders), and treatment entry (eg, outpatient, residential, pharmacotherapy).
Among female veterans, prevalence of mental health and substance use disorders was 88% and 58%, respectively, compared with 76% and 72% among male veterans. Women had higher odds of being diagnosed with a mental health disorder [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.98; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.68-2.34] and lower odds of being diagnosed with a substance use disorder (AOR = 0.50; 95% CI, 0.45-0.56) compared with men. Women had lower odds of entering mental health residential treatment (AOR = 0.69; 95% CI, 0.57-0.83).
Female veterans involved in the justice system have a high burden of mental health disorders (88%) and more than half have substance use disorders (58%). Entry to mental health residential treatment for women is an important quality improvement target.