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.
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This research was funded by a Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) grant (K12DA035150) from ORWH and NIDA at the NIH, Tom Curry (Principal Investigator) with data from two Department of Veterans Affairs HSR&D grants: “Validation of Modified DRRI Scales in a National Sample of OEF/OIF Veterans,” (Project DHI 09-086, Dawne Vogt, Principal Investigator) and “Work and Family Functioning in Women Veterans: Implications for VA Service Use,” (Project IIR 12-345, Dawne Vogt and Brian Smith, Principal Investigators).
Lawrence, Karen A.; Vogt, Dawne; Dugan, Adam; Nigam, Shawn R.; Slade, Emily; and Smith, Brian N., "Mental Health and Psychosocial Functioning in Recently Separated U.S. Women Veterans: Trajectories and Bi-Directional Relationships" (2021). Social Work Faculty Publications. 6.