Association of trauma exposure with psychiatric morbidity in military veterans who have served since September 11, 2001.
OBJECTIVE: This study examined the association of lifetime traumatic stress with psychiatric diagnostic status and symptom severity in veterans serving in the US military after 9/11/01. METHOD: Data from 356 US military veterans were analyzed. Measures included a standardized clinical interview measure of psychiatric disorders, and paper-and-pencil assessments of trauma history, demographic variables, intellectual functioning, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, depression, alcohol misuse, and global distress. RESULTS: Ninety-four percent of respondents reported at least one traumatic stressor meeting DSM-IV criterion A for PTSD (i.e., life threatening event to which the person responded with fear, helplessness or horror), with a mean of four criterion A traumas. Seventy-one percent reported serving in a war-zone, with 50% reporting occurrence of an event meeting criterion A. The rate of current psychiatric disorder in this sample was: 30% PTSD, 20% major depressive disorder, 6% substance abuse or dependence and 10% for the presence of other Axis I psychiatric disorders. After accounting for demographic covariates and combat exposure, childhood physical assault and accident/disasters were most consistently associated with increased likelihood of PTSD. However, PTSD with no comorbid major depressive disorder or substance use disorder was predicted only by combat exposure and adult physical assault. Medical/unexpected-death trauma and adult physical assault were most consistently associated with more severe symptomatology. CONCLUSIONS: Particular categories of trauma were differentially associated with the risk of psychiatric diagnosis and current symptom severity. These findings underscore the importance of conducting thorough assessment of multiple trauma exposures when evaluating recently post-deployed veterans.
Dedert, EA; Green, KT; Calhoun, PS; Yoash-Gantz, R; Taber, KH; Mumford, MM; Tupler, LA; Morey, RA; Marx, CE; Weiner, RD; Beckham, JC
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