What are the Demographic & Behavioural Health Predictors of Un/Diagnosed Depression in the US Female Military Veteran Population?

Research Paper Title

Predictors of Depression Diagnoses and Symptoms in United States Female Veterans: Results from a National Survey and Implications for Programming.

Background and Purpose

Research suggests that female veterans of the US military are more likely than their male counterparts to report mental health concerns such as post-traumatic stress, depression and suicidal thoughts. The purpose of this study was to explore the interaction of service era (time period during which active duty service occurred), social support, and beliefs about mental health care utility as they relate to depression in female veterans in the hope of improving health programming for this priority population.

Materials & Methods

Secondary analysis of data from the 2012 Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) conducted by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) involved logistic regression analysis of a large, nationally-sourced sample of 54,060 veterans, of whom 8.5% were women (n = 4,544). Correlations were found between social support, service era, and treatment stigma variables as they predicted outcome variables of diagnosed and undiagnosed depression.


Of the nationally-sourced sample of 4,544 female veterans, 25.5% reported a medically-diagnosed depression condition of mild, moderate, or major severity. Of veterans in the sample who did not already have a depression diagnosis, 12% indicated the presence of symptoms that indicate undiagnosed depression of mild, moderate, or major severity. Female veterans from recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were more likely than older peers to be struggling with symptoms that may indicate undiagnosed depression or to have a depression diagnosis.


The findings of this study aided in identifying three demographic and behavioural health predictors of diagnosed depression and one predictor of undiagnosed depression in the female military veteran population that demonstrated both practical and statistical significance.


Thomas, K.H., Albright, D.L., Shields, M.M., Kaufman, E., Michaud, C., Taylor, S.P. & Hamner, K. (2016) Predictors of Depression Diagnoses and Symptoms in United States Female Veterans: Results from a National Survey and Implications for Programming. Journal of Military and Veterans’ Health. 24(3).


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