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Logo for the Journal of Rehab R&D
Volume 43 Number 7, November/December 2006
Pages 825 — 830


Abstract - Differences in cause of death of Washington State veterans who did and did not use Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare services

Charles Maynard, PhD;* Edward J. Boyko, MD, MPH

Department of Veterans Affairs Epidemiologic Research and Information Center, Seattle, WA

Abstract — Relatively little is known about the cause of death in the veteran population, although more is known about the cause of death in Vietnam veterans or veterans receiving mental health services. This article compares characteristics and causes of death in Washington State veterans who did and did not use Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare services in the 5 years prior to death. This study included 62,080 veterans who died between 1998 and 2002, of whom 21% were users of VA healthcare services. The veterans who used VA healthcare services were younger, more often men, less educated, more often divorced, and more often smokers than the veterans who did not use VA healthcare services. Both female and male veterans who used VA healthcare services were more likely to die from drug- and/or alcohol-related causes. These findings suggest that the VA patient population is socially disadvantaged and more severely affected by substance-use disorders compared with veterans who do not use VA healthcare services.

Key words: death records, Department of Veterans Affairs, education, healthcare, mortality, rehabilitation, smoking, substance-use disorders, veterans, Washington State.

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