Factors associated with self-reported health among New Zealand military veterans: a cross-sectional study

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BMJ Publishing Group Ltd
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Objective To identify factors associated with better or poorer self-reported health status in New Zealand military Veterans. Design A cross-sectional survey. Participants The participants of interest were the 3874 currently serving Veterans who had been deployed to a conflict zone, but all Veterans were eligible to participate. Study variables The EQ-5D-5L, asking about problems across five dimensions (mobility, self-care, usual activities, pain or discomfort and anxiety or depression), with five levels of severity (eg, no, slight, moderate, severe or extreme problems), also containing a Visual Analogue Scale (EQ-VAS) to self-assess health state, scaled from 0 (worst) to 100 (best) imagined health. Hypothetical relationships with better health were positive social support, sleep and psychological flexibility; with poorer health, post-traumatic stress, exposure to psychological trauma, distress and hazardous drinking. Results The EQ5-D-5L was completed by 1767 Veterans, 1009 serving, a response rate of 26% from that group, 1767 completing the EQ5-D, 1458 who had deployed, 288 who had not and the 21 who did not provide deployment data. Of these, 247 were not used in the analysis due to missing values in one or more variables, leaving 1520 for analysis. A significantly higher proportion of Veterans reported ‘any problems’ rather than ‘no problems’ with four EQ-5D dimensions: mobility, self-care, usual activities and pain or discomfort, but no difference in anxiety or depression. Age, length of service, deployment, psychological flexibility and better sleep quality were associated with higher EQ-VAS scores; distress with lower EQ-VAS scores. Conclusion In this sample of New Zealand Veterans, psychological flexibility and good sleep are associated with better self-rated health, and distress and poor sleep with diminished health. These factors might be used as sentinel health indicators in assessing Veteran health status, and cognitive–behavioural therapy encompassing these domains may be useful in improving the health of New Zealand Veterans.
epidemiology, health & safety, mental health, musculoskeletal disorders, occupational & industrial medicine, risk management, Cross-Sectional Studies, Health Status, Humans, New Zealand, Pain, Quality of Life, Self Report, Surveys and Questionnaires, Veterans
McBride D, Samaranayaka A, Richardson A, Gardner D, Shepherd D, Wyeth E, de Graaf B, Derrett S. (2022). Factors associated with self-reported health among New Zealand military veterans: a cross-sectional study.. BMJ Open. 12. 5. (pp. e056916-).