Year: 2020 Source: BMJ Military Health. (2020). Published online 30 August 2020. doi: 10.1136/bmjmilitary-2020-001526 SIEC No: 20200817

Introduction Sex-based information on differences between Canadian veterans and the general population is important to understand veterans’ unique health needs and identify areas requiring further research. This study compared various health indicators in male and female veterans with their Canadian counterparts.
Methods Health indicators for recent-era Regular Force veterans (released between 1998 and 2015) were obtained from the 2016 Life After Service Survey and compared with the general population in the 2015–16 Canadian Community Health Survey using a cross-sectional approach. Age-adjusted rates and 95% CIs were calculated for males and females separately.
Results Compared with Canadians, veterans (both sexes) reported higher prevalence of fair or poor health and mental health, needing help with one or more activity of daily living, lifetime suicidal ideation and being diagnosed with mood and anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, migraines, back problems, chronic pain, arthritis, ever having cancer, hearing problems, chronic pain and gastrointestinal problems. A higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease (all types) and high blood pressure was observed in male veterans compared with their Canadian counterparts. Within veterans only, males reported a higher prevalence of diagnosed hearing problems and cardiovascular disease compared with females; conversely females reported a higher prevalence of diagnosed migraines, mood, anxiety and gastrointestinal disorders, and needing help with activities of daily living. These sex differences are similar to the Canadian general population. Some similarities in reporting prevalence between male and female veterans (eg, fair or poor mental health, lifetime suicidal ideation, arthritis, asthma, lifetime cancer incidence, chronic pain and diabetes) were not observed in other Canadians.
Conclusion Male and female veterans differed from comparable Canadians, and from each other, in various areas of health. Further research is needed to explore these findings, and veteran-based policies and services should consider sex differences.