HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Eating disorders and associated mental health comorbidities in female veterans

Article

This research tackles the issue of eating disorders (EDs) in female veterans, focusing on EDs in relation to mental health comorbidities specifically, whereby the sufferer has at least two health disorders/conditions that they experience at the same time.

Abstract

Eating disorders (EDs) remain understudied among veterans, possibly due to perceptions that this primarily male population does not suffer from EDs. However, previous research suggests that male and female veterans do experience EDs. The high rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and obesity observed among veterans may make this group vulnerable to disordered eating. Retrospective chart review was used to obtain data from 492 female veterans who presented to a women's primary care center at a large, urban VA medical center between 2007 and 2009. A total of 2.8% of this sample had been diagnosed with an ED. In bivariate analyses, presence of PTSD and depression were significantly associated with having an ED diagnosis. However, when these two disorders were included in a multivariate model controlling for age, only depression diagnosis and lower age were significantly related to ED status. In sum, the rate of EDs in this sample is comparable to prevalence estimates of EDs in the general population. Current findings underscore the importance of assessing for EDs among VA patients and the need for further research among veterans.

Full Reference

Karen S. Mitchell, Ann Rasmusson, Brooke Bartlett, Megan R. Gerber, 2014, Psychiatry Research, Eating disorders and associated mental health comorbidities in female veterans, 219, 3,589-591.