The health and wellbeing needs of veterans: a rapid review
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Background: For the majority of serving members, life in the military has a positive effect on wellbeing. However, the type, intensity and duration of service, along with the transition from fulltime military to civilian life, may have a negative effect on veterans’ wellbeing. Such negative consequences, alongside the growing veteran population, indicate the need for greater exploration of veterans’ physical, mental and social wellbeing. Methods: The current paper reports on the findings of a rapid review of the literature on the health and wellbeing needs of veterans, commissioned by the Australian Department of Veterans’ Affairs to inform future programs and services. The databases Embase, Medline, Cinahl, PubMed, Web of Science and Cochrane Database were searched for systematic reviews reporting on veterans’ physical, mental and social wellbeing published in English in peerreviewed journals. Results: A total of 21 systematic reviews were included. The reviews reported on a range of mental, physical and social health problems affecting veterans. While there was limited information on prevalence rates of physical, mental and social health problems in veterans compared to civilian populations, the reviews demonstrated the interconnection between these domains and the effect of demographic and military service factors. Conclusions: A key finding of the review is the interconnection of the mental, physical, and social health of veterans, highlighting the importance that an integrated approach to veterans’ wellbeing is adopted. It is suggested that understanding key factors, such as demographic factors and factors relating to military service, can support improved service provision for veterans.
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