Health Services Research & Development

Veterans Crisis Line Badge
Go to the ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstracts

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Maynard C, Nelson K, Fihn SD. Disability Rating and 1-Year Mortality Among Veterans With Service-Connected Health Conditions. Public health reports (Washington, D.C. : 1974). 2018 Nov 1; 133(6):692-699.
PubMed logo Search for Abstract from PubMed
(This link leaves the website of VA HSR&D.)


Abstract: OBJECTIVES: Military service is associated with an increased risk of disability and death after discharge. This study determined the relationships among characteristics, disability ratings, and 1-year mortality risks of veterans receiving compensation for service-connected health conditions (ie, conditions related to illnesses or injuries incurred or aggravated during military service). METHODS: This study included 4 010 720 living veterans who had 1 service-connected health condition and were receiving disability compensation on October 1, 2016. We obtained data on veteran demographic, military service, and disability characteristics from the Veterans Benefits Administration VETSNET file and on 1-year mortality from the Veterans Administration vital status file. We compared veteran characteristics and 1-year mortality rates within and between the following combined service-connected disability rating categories: low, 10% to 40% disability; medium, 50% to 90% disability; high, 100% disability. We used logistic regression analysis to determine the relationships between disability ratings and 1-year mortality rates. RESULTS: Of 4 010 720 veterans, 515 095 (12.8%) had high disability ratings, 1 600 786 (39.9%) had medium disability ratings, and 1 894 839 (47.2%) had low disability ratings. The 1-year mortality rates were 4.5% for those with high disability, 1.9% for those with medium disability, and 1.9% for those with low disability ratings. Compared with veterans with low disability ratings, veterans with high disability ratings had more than twice the odds of 1-year mortality (odds ratio = 2.45; 95% confidence interval, 2.40-2.50). CONCLUSIONS: The combined disability rating is an important determinant of short-term survival among veterans with service-connected health conditions. Veterans with a 100% disability rating comprise a highly select group with increased short-term risk of death due at least in part to their military service. Future studies assessing the relationships among combat exposure, age, duration of disability, disability ratings, and survival would be valuable.