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Motor Vehicle Crashes among Recent United States Military Veterans: Comparison by Deployment Status

Carlson KF, Kress A, McAndrew L, Schneiderman A. Motor Vehicle Crashes among Recent United States Military Veterans: Comparison by Deployment Status. Paper presented at: American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Exposition; 2014 Nov 17; New Orleans, LA.


BACKGROUND: Returning combat Veterans have about 26% increased risk of fatal motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) within five years following deployment. Little is known about factors associated with this risk. METHODS: The United States (US) Department of Veterans Affairs conducted a population-based survey of Veterans who deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq from 2001-2008 and a non-deployed comparison group. Respondents completed items about military service, war-related illnesses, risk behaviors, and health, including MVCs and their characteristics. We compared prevalence of MVCs and estimated associations between exposures of interest and MVC risk for deployed vs. non-deployed Veterans. Logistic regression was used to compute adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) while weighting to represent the population. RESULTS: In total, 34% (20,563/60,000) of sampled Veterans participated. Over 39% endorsed having had a MVC in the US since 2001; 88% were involved as drivers and 8% were riding a motorcycle. MVC prevalence was similar for deployed (38%) and non-deployed (42%) Veterans, as were proportions riding motorcycles, speeding, or driving under the influence. Also comparable between groups, odds of MVC were associated with probable traumatic brain injury (aOR = 1.4; CI = 1.3-1.6), and self-reported diagnoses of posttraumatic stress disorder (aOR = 1.2; CI = 1.1-1.3), depression (aOR = 1.3; CI = 1.2-1.4), and migraines (aOR = 1.2; CI = 1.1-1.4). CONCLUSIONS: MVCs are prevalent among all recent military Veterans. There was little difference in characteristics of, or risk factors for, MVCs by recent deployment status. Interventions targeting all recent Veterans with the identified mental and physical health problems may help decrease risk.

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