Are Activity Limitations Related to Mental Health in Veterans Aged 25 and Older?




McElroy, Juliana
Knickerbocker, Jennifer
Hartos, Jessica


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Purpose: Many veterans face difficulties such as physical limitations and mental health disorders, but little is known about how these are related within the veteran population. This study will examine the association between activity limitations and mental health in veterans aged 25 and older. Methods: This cross-sectional analysis used 2015 BRFSS data for veterans aged 25 and older from Oklahoma, Virginia, and Washington. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to assess the relationship between mental health and activity limitations after controlling for psychosocial and demographic variables. Results: About one-fourth of veterans aged 25 and older reported having less than 30 days of good mental health in the past month (19-23%), and similar amounts reported having serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs (17-28%). After controlling for lifestyle and demographic factors, mental health was inversely related to activity limitations and to chronic health conditions in all three states with moderate to high effect sizes. Conclusion: These findings indicate there is a significant relationship between activity limitations, chronic health conditions, and mental health among veterans 25 years and older. Limitations of this study include the low prevalence of female veterans which made it difficult to assess gender differences. Due to the significant relationship, it is recommended that primary care practitioners screen for activity limitations, chronic health conditions, and poor mental health if a veteran presents with any of these, and then educate and provide referral services as necessary.