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The psychological health and well-being experiences of female military veterans: a systematic review of the qualitative literature

Abstract

Introduction Women in the military are a minority group who, in addition to facing exposure to traumatic events due to the nature of the work, face additional stressors while deployed. It is argued that these exposures and experiences place individuals at a significantly higher risk of finding it difficult adjusting post deployment. This paper focuses on the psychological health and well-being of female veterans post-deployment.

Methods A systematic review of the literature related to female veterans' experiences upon returning home from deployment was conducted.

Results Eight in-depth qualitative studies met the inclusion criteria for the study and were analysed using thematic analysis. Five key themes were identified in the papers: (1) bringing the war home, (2) post-deployment adjustment, (3) loss, (4) failed belongingness and (5) post-traumatic growth.

Conclusions These studies provide a useful insight into the different psychological health and well-being experiences that female veterans encounter. Additionally, the associated effects upon the individual and their families and communities are considered.

  • Female Veterans
  • Post-deployment
  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Systematic review
  • Received August 26, 2016.
  • Revision received January 7, 2017.
  • Accepted January 26, 2017.

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