The online version of this article (https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-017-1547-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
For the majority of serving members, life in the military has a positive effect on wellbeing. However, the type, intensity and duration of service, along with the transition from fulltime military to civilian life, may have a negative effect on veterans’ wellbeing. Such negative consequences, alongside the growing veteran population, indicate the need for greater exploration of veterans’ physical, mental and social wellbeing.
The current paper reports on the findings of a rapid review of the literature on the health and wellbeing needs of veterans, commissioned by the Australian Department of Veterans’ Affairs to inform future programs and services. The databases Embase, Medline, Cinahl, PubMed, Web of Science and Cochrane Database were searched for systematic reviews reporting on veterans’ physical, mental and social wellbeing published in English in peer-reviewed journals.
A total of 21 systematic reviews were included. The reviews reported on a range of mental, physical and social health problems affecting veterans. While there was limited information on prevalence rates of physical, mental and social health problems in veterans compared to civilian populations, the reviews demonstrated the interconnection between these domains and the effect of demographic and military service factors.
A key finding of the review is the interconnection of the mental, physical, and social health of veterans, highlighting the importance that an integrated approach to veterans’ wellbeing is adopted. It is suggested that understanding key factors, such as demographic factors and factors relating to military service, can support improved service provision for veterans.
Gill GF, Bain R, Seidl I. Supporting Australia’s new veterans. Aust Fam Physician. 2015;45:102–6.
Mumford A. Veteran care in the United Kingdom and the sustainability of the ‘military covenant’. Polit Q. 2012;83:820–6. CrossRef
Chairman’s Office of Reintegration. Veteran reintegration: Useful data. 2014. Retrieved from http://www.jcs.mil/Portals/36/Documents/CORe/1410_Veteran_Reintegration_Useful_Data.pdf 21 July 2017.
Kang HK, Bullman TA. Mortality among U.S. veterans of the Persian Gulf war. N Engl J Med. 1996;14:1498–504. CrossRef
Van Til L, Macintosh S, Thompson J, MacLean MB, Campbell L, Pedlar D. 2013 synthesis of life after service studies. Canada: Veterans Affairs Canada; 2014.
Bollinger MJ, Schmidt S, Pugh JA, Parsons HM, Copeland LA, Pugh MJ. Erosion of the healthy soldier effect in veterans of US military service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Popul Health Metr. 2015;18:8. CrossRef
Hodson S, McFarlane A. Australian veterans – identification of mental health issues. Aust Fam Physician. 2016;45:98–101. PubMed
Blackburn D. Transitioning from military to civilian life: examining the final step in a military career. CMJ. 2016;16:53–61.
Chandrasekaran R. A legacy of pride and pain. The Washington post / Kaiser Family Foundation, 2014. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2014/03/29/a-legacy-of-pride-and-pain/. Accessed 29 Mar 2017.
World Health Organisation. An international conference on Health Promotion. World Health Organization (WHO), Ottawa, Canada. 1986. http://www.who.int/healthpromotion/conferences/previous/ottawa/en/index1.html. Accessed 28 Mar 2017.
Khangura S, Konnyu K, Cushman R, Grimshaw J, Moher D. Evidence summaries: the evolution of a rapid review approach. Syst Reviews. 2012;1:10. CrossRef
Shea BJ, Grimshaw JM, Wells GA, Boers M, Andersson N, Hamel C, et al. Development of AMSTAR: a measurement tool to assess the methodological quality of systematic reviews. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2007;15:10. CrossRef
Seo HJ, Kim KU. Quality assessment of systematic reviews or meta-analyses of nursing interventions conducted by Korean reviewers. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2012;28:129. CrossRef
Arriola VD, Rozelle JW. Traumatic brain injury in United States Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) Hispanic veterans: a review using the PRISMA method. Behav Sci (Basel). 2016;12:E3.
O’Neil ME, Carlson KF, Storzbach D, Brenner LA, Freeman M, Quinones AR, et al. Factors associated with mild traumatic brain injury in veterans and military personnel: a systematic review. J Int Neruopsychol Soc. 2014;5:1–13.
Beste LA, Ioannou GN. Prevalence and treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus infection in the US Department of veterans affairs. Epidemiol Rev. 2014;37:131–43. CrossRef
Magruder KM, Yeager DE. The prevalence of PTSD across war eras and the effect of development on PTSD: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychiatr Ann. 2009;39:8. CrossRef
Hawthorne G, Korn S, Creamer M. Australian peacekeepers: long-term mental health status, health service use, and quality of life. Australian Centre for posttraumatic. Mental Health. 2014;
Sim M, Clarke D, Forbes A, Glass D, Gwini J, Ikin J, et al. Australian gulf war veterans’ follow up health study: summary report 2015. Australia: Monash University; 2015.
Wilmoth JM, London AS, Parker WM. Sex differences in the relationship between military service status and functional limitations and disabilities. Popul Res Policy Rev. 2011;30:333–54. CrossRef
Brancu M, Straits-Troster K, Kudler H. Behavioral health conditions among military personnel and veterans: prevalence and best practice for treatment. N C Med J. 2011;72:54–60. PubMed
Bean-Mayberry B, Yano EM, Washington DL, Goldzweig C, Batuman F, Huang C, et al. Systematic review of women veterans’ health: update on successes and gaps. Womens Health Issues. 2011;21-4S:S84-S97.
McFarlane S, Hodson SE, Van Hooff M, Davies C. 2010 ADF mental health and wellbeing study. Canberra: Australian Department of Defence; 2011. Available at: http://www.defence.gov.au/health/dmh/docs/mhpwsreport-fullreport.pdf. Accessed 29 Mar 2017.
Ouimette P, Vogt D, Wade M, Tirone V, Greenbaum MA, Kimerling R, et al. Perceived barriers to care among veterans health administration patients with posttraumatic stress disorder. Psychol Serv. 2011;8:212–23. CrossRef
Reed R, Masters S, Roeger LS. The Australian Defence force post-discharge GP health assessment. Aust Fam Physician. 2016;45:94–7. PubMed
- The health and wellbeing needs of veterans: a rapid review
- BioMed Central