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Systematic Review of Women Veterans Health Research 2004-2008

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Systematic Review of Women Veterans Health Research 2004-2008

Investigators: Bevanne Bean-Mayberry, MD, MHS, Christine Huang, MD, Fatma Batuman, MD, Caroline Goldzweig, MD, MSPH, Donna L Washington, MD, MPH, Elizabeth M Yano, PhD, MSPH, and Isomi M Miake-Lye, BA.

Evidence-based Synthesis Program (ESP) Center, West Los Angeles VA Medical Center

Washington (DC): Department of Veterans Affairs; October 2010.

Download PDF: Complete Report, Executive Summary, Report, Appendices

Summary / Overview

The body of literature dedicated to women veterans' health and health care issues has grown significantly since the publication of one previous systematic review focused on women veterans. To address the growing demand and potential needs of women veterans in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare System, this project sought to assess the state of women veterans' health research and stratify the literature into domains relevant for VA research and policy.

Because of the broad survey nature of this synthesis, no key questions were developed.


Women are playing an ever increasing role in the US military, representing about 15% of active military personnel, 17% of reserve and National Guard forces, and 20% of new military recruits. Concurrently, women are one of the fastest growing groups of new users in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare System, with particularly high rates of utilization among veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Of the more than 100,000 OEF/OIF women veterans, over 44% have enrolled in the VA system for health care. Thus, women veterans represent an integral part of the veteran community.

Women's military experiences and responses to their military experiences are often distinct from those of men, and these differences can affect both their health status and their health care needs as active duty personnel and as veterans. This, together with the rise in the number of women veterans in the VA system, calls for increased understanding of women veteran health issues and areas of potential knowledge deficit in order to guide VA care and VA research efforts. The body of research literature dedicated to women veterans and women's military health and health care issues has significantly grown and expanded in size and scope since the publication of the first systematic review of women veterans research. This project updated that review by examining the literature on women veterans� health and health care from 2004 to 2008.

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