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Health and functioning among four eras of veterans: examining the impact of social and economic determinants

Villa VM, Harada N, Damron-Rodriguez J, Washington D. Health and functioning among four eras of veterans: examining the impact of social and economic determinants. Paper presented at: VA HSR&D National Meeting; 2000 Mar 1; Washington, DC.


The Purpose of this analysis is to document the level of health and functioning among World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf era United States Veterans participating in the National Survey of Veterans in 1993. Methods: The data for this analysis come from the National Survey of Veterans (NSV) that was conducted in 1993 by the Department of Veteran Affairs. The survey obtained information on the economic, health status, and service use of 11,620 U.S. veterans. Utilizing descriptive and multivariate statistical techniques we examine the health status of WWII, Korean, Vietnam and Persian gulf veterans across three domains of health: self rated health, level of functioning i.e., activities of daily living (ADL) /instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), and prevalence of chronic and acute disease. Through the use of OLS regression we examine the impact that war era, social, and economic determinants have on the health status indicators. Results: The results reveal that Vietnam era veterans report lower self rated health and more difficulty with functioning across all ADLs and IADLs than the other eras of veterans. The Vietnam era veterans disadvantage relative to WWI veterans persists even when controlling for age income education and race/ethnicity. The WWII era veterans report higher levels of chronic diseases including high blood pressure and heart disease than other eras of veterans. Additionally, African American, and Latino veterans of all four eras fare worse across all health measures when compared to White/Anglo veterans. Conclusions: While some of the health disadvantages experienced by Vietnam veterans can be explained in part by social and economic indicators, they remain disadvantaged specifically in the area of functioning even when these indicators are held constant. Further analysis should examine the impact that other determinants including disease prevalence and health habits have on health status among this population. Impact Statement: Examination of the level of health of U.S. veterans as well as the factors that are associated with poor health is important for designing health promotion and disease prevention programs that mesh with the needs of the veteran population and thereby improve health.

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