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Stress Response in Female Veterans: An Allostatic Perspective


  • Maureen Wimberly Groër PhD RN FAAN,

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    • Maureen Wimberly Groër, PhD RN FAAN, is the Gordon Keller Professor at the University of South Florida College of Nursing in Tampa, FL.

  • Candace Burns PhD ARNP

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    • Candace Burns, PhD ARNP, is a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and professor at the University of South Florida College of Nursing in Tampa, FL.


Women serving in the military face many sources of stress, such as separation from home and family, sexual harassment and assault, and deployment to traumatic war zones. Some women are vulnerable to the effects of these stressors, resulting in deleterious mental and physical health outcomes. Understanding these risks through the theoretical model of allostasis can help identify those who will be most vulnerable and help healthcare providers prevent some negative outcomes and improve rehabilitation for some women when they return stateside. Women may be more likely than men to present with mental health problems such as posttraumatic stress disorder and depression after military service. They also may be at increased risk, based on their war-zone stress response, for disparate illness such as medically unexplained illness, cancer, and heart disease. The need for care for these women is expected to increase as more women are deployed to conflicts.