The Relationship Between Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms and Physical Health in a Survey of U.S. Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Era.
BACKGROUND: Although a large body of literature has linked posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with poor physical health among older veterans, less is known regarding the association between PTSD and health among relatively younger cohorts of veterans. OBJECTIVE: The current study examined the association between PTSD and self-reported health among a sample of veterans who served in the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. METHOD: Veterans (N = 1030) who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan completed measures of PTSD symptom severity and self-rated health between September 2009 and February 2010. Analyses examined the association between PTSD symptoms and health outcomes. RESULTS: In analyses adjusted for age, sex, race, and combat exposure, PTSD symptom severity was positively related to the number of health conditions and health symptoms reported (ps<0.001). Additionally, in analyses adjusted for age, sex, race, combat exposure, number of health conditions, and number of health symptoms, PTSD symptom severity was associated with an increased likelihood of rating one's health as poor or fair and an increased likelihood of reporting that one's physical health limits participation in activities (ps<0.001). CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that, consistent with previous research, PTSD symptom severity has a broad negative effect on physical health among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan era. Health promotion among veterans with PTSD may help attenuate risk of physical health consequences.
Schry, AR; Rissling, MB; Gentes, EL; Beckham, JC; Kudler, HS; Straits-Tröster, K; Calhoun, PS
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