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Caregiving experiences and health conditions of women veteran and non-veteran caregivers.

Lavela SL, Etingen B, Louise-Bender Pape T. Caregiving experiences and health conditions of women veteran and non-veteran caregivers. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2013 Jul 1; 23(4):e225-32.

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BACKGROUND: Unique experiences, for example, trauma, of women veteran caregivers may create differences in the caregiving experience and may be associated with health concerns. We examined caregiving factors and health concerns in women veteran caregivers compared to non-veteran women (civilian) caregivers, and identified variables associated with being a woman veteran caregiver. METHODS: We conducted secondary data analyses using data from a multistate survey to examine sociodemographics, the caregiver experience (relationship to recipient, duration as caregiver, hours of care provided, area help is needed, and greatest difficulty faced as a caregiver); emotional support; life satisfaction; lifestyle behaviors; general, physical, and mental health; and chronic conditions in women informal caregivers. FINDINGS: Of women caregivers, more veteran caregivers provided activities of daily living (ADL) help (33%) than non-veteran caregivers (21%; p = .02). There were no differences in years as a caregiver, hours of care provided, or the relationship to the recipient. Poor sleep and poor mental health were experienced by more women veteran caregivers (vs. non-veteran), but physical health, general health, and chronic condition prevalence did not differ. Women veteran caregivers had twofold greater odds of being Black, never married, college educated, and providing ADL assistance. Odds of obesity were lower for women veteran caregivers relative to other women caregivers. CONCLUSIONS: Women veteran caregivers experience health concerns, including sleeplessness, poor mental health, and some chronic conditions. Our cohort were young women, yet had concerns that may be exacerbated by being a veteran and assuming a caregiver role. Comprehensive services to support their needs as veteran patients and as caregivers are needed.

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