Causes of alcohol-attributable death and associated years of potential life lost among LGB and non-LGB veteran men and women in Veterans Health Administration
Abstract: Alcohol use is a significant concern nationally and research now highlights higher rates of alcohol attributable death (AAD) and years of potential life lost (YPLL) among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) veterans compared to non-LGB veterans. In this study, we examined specific causes of AAD and associated YPLL between LGB and non-LGB veteran men and women to highlight needed outreach, prevention, and treatment strategies. Using data from the nationwide Veterans Health Administration electronic health record and National Death Index from 2014 to 2018, we examined the top ten ranked causes of AAD among LGB (n = 102,085) and non-LGB veteran (n = 5,300,521) men and women, as well as associated YPLL per AAD. We observed higher rates of AAD among men than women, but higher rates among LGB veterans relative to their same-sex non-LGB counterparts. We noted greater YPLL per AAD among LGB men and all women compared to non-LGB men, even when of similar or same rank in cause of death. Acute-cause AAD death (e.g., alcohol-related suicide, poisonings) was ranked higher among LGB men and all women. YPLL was greater for both acute- and chronic-cause AAD (e.g., liver disease) among LGB men and all women compared to non-LGB men. Causes of AAD differ between LGB and non-LGB men and women. The differences observed highlight disparities in acute- and chronic-cause AAD between groups help explain the higher number of YPLL per AAD that disfavor LGB men and women veterans, and essential next steps in primary and secondary prevention of hazardous drinking and mortality risk.
Abstract:Military families face many unique challenges, including frequent separations, demanding work hours, and relocations. The HealthySteps (HS) program may offset these challenges utilizing the expertise of a nonclinical child development specialist called a HS specialist who offers enhanced well-child visits (WCVs), support between visits, and connections to community resources. Our study sought to identify the impact of the military HS pilot program on the timeliness of WCVs, immunizations, routine behavioural and developmental screenings, and referrals to community resources within the first 15 months of life (MOL). We retrospectively reviewed charts of 26 HS-enrolled and 26 randomly selected age-matched non-HS–enrolled children from age 2 to 15 MOL. Demographic variables obtained include child’s gender, child’s birth order, mother’s age, active duty parent’s rank classification, and active duty parent’s gender. We examined five outcomes measures aligning with the American Academy of Pediatrics health supervision, immunization, and screening recommendations and National Committee for Quality Assurance Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set measures: (1) completed six or more WCVs in the first 15 MOL, (2) completed developmental screening at the 9-month WCV, (3) up to date on vaccinations at 15 MOL, (4) completed three or more postpartum depression (PPD) screens in the first 6 MOL, and (5) the total number of documented referrals to community resources within the first 15 MOL. Chi-square analysis and independent t-tests were used to compare the groups. There was no statistical significance (P > .05) between the HS-enrolled and control groups for all five demographic variables. A significantly higher percentage of children in the HS-enrolled group received PPD screening compared to the control group (96% vs. 73.1%, P = .021). The HS-enrolled group had a higher mean number of community resource referrals at 15 MOL of 2.46 (SD = 1.14) vs. the control group with a mean of 0.19 (SD = 0.49). None of the other outcomes showed a statistically significant difference between groups. The results of this study indicate the positive impacts of the military HS program on referrals to community resources and PPD screening, reflecting the HS specialist focus on the family unit. Limitations of this study include the small population size and limited demographic information resulting from the retrospective nature of the study and pilot status of the HS program. Larger prospective studies are needed to clarify the true impact of the HS program in the military health system.