Family Problems Among Recently Returned Military Veterans Referred for a Mental Health Evaluation

VISN 4 MIRECC 116, Philadelphia VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 5.5). 03/2009; 70(2):163-70. DOI: 10.4088/JCP.07m03863
Source: PubMed


Existing evidence suggests that military veterans with mental health disorders have poorer family functioning, although little research has focused on this topic.
To test whether psychiatric symptoms are associated with family reintegration problems in recently returned military veterans.
Cross-sectional survey of a clinical population. Respondents who were referred to behavioral health evaluation from April 2006 through August 2007 were considered for the survey.
Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Pa.
199 military veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan after 2001 and were referred for behavioral health evaluation from primary care (mean age = 32.7 years, SD = 9.1).
Measures included the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview for psychiatric diagnoses, the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire for depression diagnosis and severity, and screening measures of alcohol abuse and illicit substance use. A measure of military family readjustment problems and a screening measure of domestic abuse were developed for this study.
Three fourths of the married/cohabiting veterans reported some type of family problem in the past week, such as feeling like a guest in their household (40.7%), reporting their children acting afraid or not being warm toward them (25.0%), or being unsure about their family role (37.2%). Among veterans with current or recently separated partners, 53.7% reported conflicts involving "shouting, pushing, or shoving," and 27.6% reported that this partner was "afraid of them." Depression and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms were both associated with higher rates of family reintegration problems.
Mental health problems may complicate veterans' readjustment and reintegration into family life. The findings suggest an opportunity to improve the treatment of psychiatric disorders by addressing family problems.

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