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2008 HSR&D National Meeting Abstract

National Meeting 2008

3085 — Head Injury in Women Veterans

Torner J (University of Iowa), Sadler A (Iowa City VA Medical Center), Mengeling M (Iowa City VA Medical Center), Gillette P (Iowa City VA Medical Center ), Booth B (Center for Mental Healthcare Outcomes and Research (CeMHOR) )

Head injury in veterans has been of concern because of lasting psychological and cognitive deficits. Little information is available on the frequency and consequences in female veterans.

800 women participated in a study of current health, health risk behaviors and health care utilization of women with and without lifetime sexual assault exposure. Consenting women veterans seeking care from the Iowa City VAMC and clinics within the preceding 5 years (< 51 years of age) completed a computer-assisted telephone interview assessing socio-demographic variables, past and current health and medical history, health risk behaviors, access to care, trauma exposures, rape exposures, and post-traumatic stress symptoms and diagnoses.

Head injury prevalence was reported in 33.4% (267/800) of women respondents. 59% of the head injured women had loss of consciousness with the injury. Substance abuse was significantly higher in those with head injuries. Psychological disorders were also more prevalent in the head injured veterans with increases in depression, anxiety, panic, PTSD and OCD. Persons with head injuries were more likely to have headaches (55% vs 39%) and fibromyalgia (15% vs 75%). Current employment was lower in the head injured subjects 52% versus 68% in women not head injured.

The frequency of head injury is high and is associated with several psychological conditions. Pain disorders are higher in this population and the lower employment demonstrates a combined influence of several factors.

Identification of head injuries that have psychological or cognitive deficits is important in determining the need for evaluation and rehabilitative services. This recognition and intervention is important in the employment and social reintegration of these veterans.

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