Purpose: Little is known about the long-term, health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of those wounded in combat during Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn. The present study described the overall HRQOL for a large group of US service members experiencing mild-to-severe combat-related injuries, and assessed the unique contribution of demographics, service- and injury-related characteristics, and mental health factors on long-term HRQOL.
Method: The Wounded Warrior Recovery Project examines patient-reported outcomes in a cohort of US military personnel wounded in combat. Participants were identified from the Expeditionary Medical Encounter Database, a US Navy-maintained deployment health database, and invited to complete a web-based survey. At the time of this study, 3245 service members consented and completed the survey. Hierarchical linear regression analyses were conducted to assess the unique contribution of each set of antecedents on HRQOL scores.
Results: HRQOL was uniquely associated with a number of demographics, and service- and injury-related characteristics. Nevertheless, screening positive for posttraumatic stress disorder (B = - .09; P < .001), depression (B = - .10; P < .001), or both as a set (B = - .19; P < .001) were the strongest predictors of lower long-term HRQOL.
Conclusions: Postinjury HRQOL among service members wounded in combat was associated with service and injury experience, and demographic factors, but was most strongly linked with current mental health status. These findings underscore the significance of mental health issues long after injury. Further, findings reinforce that long-term mental health screening, services, and treatment are needed for those injured in combat.
Keywords: Health-related quality of life; Injury; Mental health; Military.