Civic Service as an Intervention to Promote Psychosocial Health and Implications for Mental Health in Post-9/11/01 Era Women Veterans

Karen A. Lawrence, Monica M. Matthieu, Emma Robertson-Blackmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Women veterans experience significant morbidity with poorer health and mental health outcomes relative to nonveteran counterparts. Little is known about how to best promote health and well-being among reintegrating female veterans. Civic service has been shown to improve mental health in civilians, but its impact on female veterans is unknown. This study characterizes the physical and mental health and psychosocial functioning of female veterans and evaluates changes in these domains following completion of an intensive civic service program. Materials and Methods: Data were obtained from an observational, pre-post cohort study of post-9/11/01 era veterans who completed a 6-month, 20-hour per week civic service program. Of the 346 participants, 107 were women. Participants completed online pre- and post-program surveys. Nine measures of health, mental health, and psychosocial functioning were analyzed. Results: Before starting the program, 47% of women screened positive for a probable diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 24% for depression, and 51% reported seeking assistance for mental health problems. Pre-post change scores indicated significant improvements on nine measures of health, mental health, and psychosocial functioning (p < 0.05). Perceived self-efficacy change scores predicted PTSD change scores, F(1, 93) = 8.00, p < 0.05. Seeking professional assistance for mental health problems and social isolation and loneliness change scores predicted depression change scores, F(2, 95) = 15.618, p < 0.05, explaining 23% of the variance. Conclusions: Civic service has the potential to promote and support the maintenance of psychosocial well-being for returning post-9/11/01 era women veterans with symptoms of PTSD or depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1133-1142
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Volume28
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2019, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

Keywords

  • PTSD
  • depressive symptoms
  • mental health
  • psychosocial support systems
  • veterans
  • women's health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)

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