Predictors of depression diagnoses and symptoms in veterans: results from a national survey

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University of Alabama Libraries

The suicide numbers among active duty military personnel eclipsed the number of combat deaths in 2011. Before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the incidence of suicide in active duty US service members was consistently 25% lower than in the civilian population. Currently military and veteran suicide rates exceed those found in the general population, with 22 per day being the most conservative estimates by the Veteran's Administration. The reasons for this are multi-faceted, with the question looming as to whether repeated ground combat tours have a deleterious effect on resilience and overall mental health. Operational tempo in the last ten years has exceeded all previous expectations and metrics; frequent trips to Iraq and Afghanistan are commonplace for this community. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between ten key variables and rates of diagnosed depression and symptoms of undiagnosed depression in a national sample of veterans to generate predictive models for the condition in military veterans. This study utilized secondary data analysis of veteran respondents using the 2012 Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Logistic regression analysis explored associations between diagnosed and undiagnosed depression in veteran respondents and independent variables including: veteran era, sex, ethnicity, race, relationship status, physical activity, binge drinking, smoking, physical disability and pain, and beliefs about mental health care's usefulness. This timely and culturally-relevant line of inquiry offers insight that may guide targeted resilience programming for the veteran community.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Health education, Public health