Gender Differences in Veterans Referred for Neuropsychological Evaluation in an Outpatient Neuropsychology Consultation Service

Erin Sullivan-Baca, Kara Naylon, Andrea Zartman, Barry Ardolf, J. Gregory Westhafer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The number of women veterans seeking Veterans Health Administration services has substantially increased over the past decade. Neuropsychology remains an understudied area in the examination of gender differences. The present study sought to delineate similarities and differences in men and women veterans presenting for neuropsychological evaluation in terms of demographics, referral, medical conditions, effort, and outcome diagnosis. METHOD: A database collected from an outpatient VA neuropsychology clinic from 2013 to 2019 was analyzed (n = 232 women, 2642 men). Additional analyses examined younger (n = 836 men, 155 women) and older (n = 1805 men, 77 women) age cohorts. RESULTS: Women veterans were younger and more educated than men, whereas men had higher prevalence of vascular risk factors. Both groups were most often referred from mental health clinics and memory was the most common referral question. Although men performed worse on performance validity measures, clinicians rated women as evidencing poorer effort on a cumulative rating based on formal and embedded performance validity measures, behavioral observations, and inconsistent test patterns. Older women reported more depressive symptoms than older men and were more commonly diagnosed with depression. CONCLUSIONS: This exploratory study fills a gap in the understanding of gender differences in veterans presenting for neuropsychological evaluations. Findings emphasize consideration for the intersection of gender with demographics, medical factors, effort, and psychological symptoms by VA neuropsychologists. A better understanding of relationships between gender and these factors may inform neuropsychologists' test selection, interpretation of behavioral observations, and diagnostic considerations to best treat women veterans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)562-575
Number of pages14
JournalArchives of clinical neuropsychology : the official journal of the National Academy of Neuropsychologists
Volume35
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 24 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Assessment
  • Elderly/geriatrics/aging
  • Gender effects
  • Malingering/symptom validity testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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