Mental health and psychosocial functioning in recently separated U.S. women veterans: Trajectories and bi-directional relationships

Karen A. Lawrence, Dawne Vogt, Adam J. Dugan, Shawn Nigam, Emily Slade, Brian N. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Prior research on the relationship between veterans’ mental health and psychosocial functioning has primarily relied on male samples. Here, we investigated prospective longitudinal relationships between mental health and psychosocial functioning in 554 female Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans who were surveyed three times between two-and seven-years following separation from service. Mixed effects modeling revealed that increasing depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) severity predicted declines in work functioning. Increasing PTSD severity predicted declining parental functioning and worsening depression predicted a decline in relationship functioning. In turn, decreased work and intimate relationship functioning predicted increased PTSD and depression symptom severity suggesting bi-directional effects between mental health and psychosocial functioning. An examination of the effect of deployment stressors on psychosocial functioning revealed that deployment sexual harassment was the strongest predictor of decreased psychosocial functioning across all domains. Evidence for the reciprocal nature of relationships between mental health and psychosocial functioning underscore the need for treatment targeted at PTSD and depression, as well as work and relationship functioning to improve outcomes for women veterans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number935
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords

  • Depressive disorder
  • Functional impairment
  • Occupational health
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Sexual harassment
  • Veterans’ health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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