HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Combat exposure, social relationships, and subjective well-being among middle-aged and older Veterans

Article

This study considers the association of subjective well-being with combat exposure and social relationships among middle-aged and older Veteran men in the USA.

Abstract

Objectives: This study described the association of subjective well-being with combat exposure and social relationships among middle-aged and older Veteran men in the USA. The stress-buffering hypothesis, which predicts social relationships may moderate the association between combat exposure and subjective well-being, was also examined. Method: Data from the 2008 Health and Retirement Study (N = 2961) were used to estimate logistic regression models, focusing on three measures of subjective well-being: depression, life satisfaction, and self-reported health. Results: In the fully adjusted models, there were no statistically significant relationships between combat exposure and the three indicators of subjective well-being. However, compared to Veterans who had lower scores on the social relationship index, Veterans who had higher scores were less likely to be depressed and less likely to report poor or fair health. Veterans who had higher scores on the social relationships index reported higher levels of life satisfaction than those Veterans who had lower scores. There was no evidence for a social relationships buffering effect. Conclusion: The results of this study demonstrated that combat exposure did not have a long-term relationship with subjective well-being. Longitudinal research designs with more comprehensive indicators of combat exposure may help researchers better understand some of the underlying complexity of this relationship. Complementary research with samples of women Veterans, as well as samples of Hispanic, and non-Black, non-White Veterans, is also needed.

Full Reference

Yang, M.S., Burr, J.A. 2016. Combat exposure, social relationships, and subjective well-being among middle-aged and older Veterans. Aging & Mental Health, 20:6, 637-646.