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Methodology

Data in this report are obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
Four years of data are included: 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. To ensure adequate sample size for the number of people who have served, two years of data are combined into 2012-2013 and 2014-2015 for the overall populations of women who have served and women who have not served. For analysis by race/ethnicity and age, all four years of data are combined.
Data were analyzed using survey weights. Point estimates are reported for women who have served and women who have not, overall by race/ethnicity and age. To reflect the differing age distribution of women who have and have not served, data have been age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. Standard Population.
Age-adjusted rates are included in the body of the report, while unadjusted rates are available upon request.

Limitations

Given the large annual sample sizes present in the analyzed datasets and the pooling of multiple years of data to produce estimates, the numbers presented on those who have served are backed by adequate statistical power. Further, the sampling designs of these surveys ensures representation by multiple demographic variables, including race/ethnicity and age.
However, there are limitations to interpreting data on those who have served. For example, each of the three sources of data analyzed for this report asks different questions about military service. Since 2011, the BRFSS has asked only whether the respondent has served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. By comparison, NSDUH asks whether respondents have ever been in the U.S. Armed Forces and excludes any who are currently on active duty. NHIS asks if the respondent has ever served in the U.S. Armed Forces, Reserves, or National Guard and excludes those on active duty. As such, BRFSS data in this report do not distinguish between those currently serving and those who have been discharged, while NSDUH and NHIS data exclude those on active duty but include those who currently or in the past have served in the Reserves or National Guard without being activated. For the time period analyzed, none of the surveys allow analysis by the nature of discharges, involvement in active combat, or the era in which one served. Additionally, the samples of women who have served and not served may be different from one another in demographic composition, for example citizenship status. Such differences may contribute to observed differences in results between the groups.
Caution should also be taken when interpreting data on specific health measures. Of note, many health outcome measures indicate whether a respondent has been told by a health care professional that they have a disease, excluding those who may not have received a diagnosis or not have sought or obtained treatment.

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