Deployment-related TBI, persistent postconcussive symptoms, PTSD, and depression in OEF/OIF veterans.
OBJECTIVE: A substantial proportion of the more than 2 million service members who have served in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) have experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Understanding the long-term impact of TBI is complicated by the nonspecific nature of postconcussive symptoms (PCSs) and the high rates of co-occurrence among TBI, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression. The goal of the present research was to examine the relations among TBI, persistent PCSs, and symptoms of PTSD and depression among returning OEF/OIF veterans. METHOD: 213 OEF/OIF veterans (87% male) completed a semistructured screening interview assessing deployment-related TBI and current, persistent PCSs. Participants also completed self-report measures of combat exposure and current symptoms of PTSD and depression. RESULTS: Nearly half (46%) of sampled veterans screened positive for TBI, the majority of whom (85%) reported at least one persistent PCS after removing PCSs that overlapped with PTSD and depression. Veterans with deployment-related TBI reported higher levels of combat exposure and symptoms of PTSD and depression. Structural equation modeling was used to assess the fit of 3 models of the relationships among TBI, combat exposure, persistent PCSs, PTSD, and depression. Consistent with hypotheses, the best-fitting model was one in which the effects of TBI on both PTSD and depression were fully mediated by nonoverlapping persistent PCSs. CONCLUSIONS: These findings highlight the importance of addressing persistent PCSs in order to facilitate the functional recovery of returning war veterans.
Morissette, SB; Woodward, M; Kimbrel, NA; Meyer, EC; Kruse, MI; Dolan, S; Gulliver, SB
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