Predictors and Barriers of Student Veterans' Academic Success
Approximately 1 million Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) veterans receive VA Educational Benefits with initial research finding veterans will be less likely to graduate than their non-veteran peers. Impairment in problem-solving ability affects 80% of OEF/OIF veterans seen at a VA clinic and is known to negatively impact academic success among civilians. Problem-solving is considered one of the most complex of cognitive abilities and is related to complicated behaviors such as setting goals and multi-tasking, all which are necessary to succeed in coursework. Problem-solving deficits may also complicate some veteran's existing mental health conditions, further impairing academic success. Despite published reports documenting problem-solving deficits among OEF/OIF veterans, no study has examined if and how these deficits impact academic achievement. We are conducting a longitudinal study to examine whether there is a relationship between problem-solving ability and academic success among OEF/OIF student veterans. We hypothesize that among student veterans, better problem-solving ability will be related to better academic achievement. Additionally, we are investigating the role that social support, adjustment to college, post-deployment health problems (alcohol abuse, depressive and post-traumatic stress symptoms) play in explaining the relationship between better problem-solving ability and better academic achievement.
Medically Unexplained Symptoms and Illnesses
Medically unexplained symptoms and illnesses have no clearly understood etiology, such as the common stomach and head ache, or more chronic cases such as fibromyalgia, Gulf War Illness, or temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ). We want to know: how do patients manage these symptoms and conditions? Using the methods of meta-analysis, we are looking into the current literature to (a) investigate patients’ illness beliefs and illness representations, (b) determine the association between illness representations and health outcomes, and (c) determine the association between illness representations and self-management among patients with medically unexplained illnesses.