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Health Services Research & Development

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HSR&D Citation Abstract

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Schmidt EM, Magruder K, Kilbourne AM, Stock EM, Cypel Y, El Burai FĂ©lix S, Serpi T, Kimerling R, Cohen B, Spiro A, Furey J, Huang GD, Frayne SM. Four Decades after War: Incident Diabetes among Women Vietnam-Era Veterans in the HealthViEWS Study. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2019 Nov 1; 29(6):471-479.
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Abstract: OBJECTIVES: We analyzed long-term differences in incident diabetes associated with military service in a warzone among women who served during the Vietnam War era. METHODS: For HealthViEWS, the largest later-life study of women Vietnam War-era U.S. veterans, a population-based retrospective cohort who served during 1965-1973 completed a health interview in 2011-2012. This cohort included women deployed to Vietnam, near Vietnam, or who served primarily in the United States. We hypothesized a warzone exposure gradient: Vietnam (highest exposure), near Vietnam, and the United States (lowest exposure). We used an extended Cox regression to test for differences in incident diabetes by location of wartime service. RESULTS: Of 4,503 women in the analysis, 17.7% developed diabetes. Adjusting for demographics and military service characteristics, hazard of incident diabetes was significantly lower initially in the Vietnam group compared with the U.S. group (hazard ratio, 0.33; 95% confidence interval, 0.15-0.69). However, lower diabetes hazard in the Vietnam group was not constant over time; rather, hazard accumulated faster over time in the Vietnam group compared with the U.S. group (hazard ratio, 1.38; 95% confidence interval, 1.11-1.72). No significant difference in diabetes hazard was found between the near Vietnam and U.S. groups. Older age during military service, minority race/ethnicity, and lower military rank were associated with a higher diabetes hazard. CONCLUSIONS: Women deployed to a warzone might have protective health factors that lower risk for diabetes early in their military career, but delivery systems for long-term health should consider that a lower risk for chronic diseases like diabetes can wane quickly in the decades that follow warzone service.

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