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Student Veterans Reintegrating From the Military to the University With Traumatic Injuries: How Does Service Use Relate to Health Status?

Published:October 30, 2017DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apmr.2017.10.008

      Abstract

      Objective

      To examine the effects of campus services on the health of veterans with traumatic injuries and comorbidities as they return from military service and enter college.

      Design

      Cross-sectional Internet survey using a mixed-methods analysis approach.

      Setting

      Four-year urban research university.

      Participants

      Veterans returning from active military duty (N=127).

      Interventions

      None.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Surveys included standardized measures of health status, traumatic injuries, and functional impairment (PTSD Checklist, Civilian version; Veterans Health Administration traumatic brain injury [TBI] screen; and Veterans RAND-12 item Health Survey); use of campus services and perceived effectiveness of these services in supporting reintegration to the university; and recommendations for additional services.

      Results

      Quantitative and qualitative data revealed that student veterans experience high rates of chronic pain that interfere with their daily functioning (92.7%), symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (77.9%), symptoms of TBI (26.0%), and comorbidities as the polytrauma clinical triad (14.2%). Despite the high prevalence of pain, PTSD, and TBI, few students used disability services (5.2%), counseling services (18.8%), or student health services (36.5%). Students experienced challenges accessing needed health services when reintegrating from the military to the university, including mutable university service factors.

      Conclusions

      Findings indicate the need for campus services to address the particular needs of student veterans and the need for determining what particular services should be offered to help this population cope with injuries and succeed in college.

      Keywords

      List of abbreviations:

      GPA (grade point average), PCT (polytrauma clinical triad), PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder), TBI (traumatic brain injury)
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