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Prev Chronic Dis. 2012;9:E108. Epub 2012 May 31.

Health-related quality of life among US veterans and civilians by race and ethnicity.

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  • 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30341, USA.



Among veterans, having been selected into the military and having easy access to medical care during and after military service may reduce premature mortality but not morbidity from mental distress and may not improve health-related quality of life. The objective of this study was to determine whether veterans in different racial/ethnic groups differ in their health-related quality of life from each other and from their civilian counterparts.


Among 800,000 respondents to the 2007-2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys, approximately 110,000 identified themselves as veterans and answered questions about their sociodemographic characteristics, self-rated health, and recent health-related quality of life. Nonoverlapping 95% confidence intervals of means distinguished veterans and civilians of different racial/ethnic groups.


Veteran and civilian American Indians/Alaska Natives reported more physically unhealthy days, mentally unhealthy days, and recent activity limitation days than their veteran and civilian counterparts in other racial/ethnic groups. Non-Hispanic white veterans and Hispanic veterans reported more physically unhealthy days, mentally unhealthy days, and recent activity limitation days than their civilian counterparts.


Unlike findings in other studies, our findings show that veterans' health-related quality of life differs from that of civilians both within the same racial/ethnic group and among different racial/ethnic groups. Because once-healthy soldiers may not be as healthy when they return to civilian life, assessing their health-related quality of life over time may identify those who need help to regain their health.

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