School for Social Work
Women veterans-Mental health services, Mental illness-Alternative treatment, Alternative medicine, CAM, Veterans, Complementary, Alternative, Medicine, Female
Prior research has demonstrated that specific types of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) are beneficial in decreasing mental health symptoms. Despite this, rates of CAM use are relatively low among veterans, and data about CAM use among female veterans is non-existent. Thus, the purpose of this study is to examine the demographic and clinical characteristics of female veterans that engage in CAM. Female Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom Veterans (n=365) in Veterans Affairs (VA) care participated in a web-based survey that was one component of a larger VA study. Results indicated that slightly more than one third of female veterans engaged in CAM within the twelve months prior to participating in the study, and that exercise and movement therapy was the most commonly used CAM. Findings also revealed a variety of specific demographic and clinical characteristics of female veterans that engaged in CAM (i.e. identifying as Latino/Hispanic, having a service-connected disability rating, having private health insurance, needing mental health care in the past 6 months and being unable to get it, having experienced military sexual trauma, not receiving treatment since returning from deployment for drug and/or alcohol abuse, and not having been physically harmed by a stranger). These findings suggest that low rates of CAM use by female veterans may be due in part to cultural factors, cost, stigma, fear of "risk-taking," and lack of health consciousness.
Gladstone, Heather W., "The demographic and clinical characteristics of female veterans who engage in complementary and alternative medicine" (2012). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.