Why are Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans seeking PTSD disability compensation at unprecedented rates?
ABSTRACT The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have produced historically low rates of fatalities, injuries, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among U.S. combatants. Yet they have also produced historically unprecedented rates of PTSD disability compensation seeking from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The purpose of this article is to consider hypotheses that might potentially resolve this paradox, including high rates of PTSD, delayed onset PTSD, malingered PTSD, and economic variables.
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ABSTRACT: Concerns have been raised about the psychological effect of continued combat exposure and of repeated deployments. We examined the consequences of deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan on the mental health of UK armed forces from 2003 to 2009, the effect of multiple deployments, and time since return from deployment. We reassessed the prevalence of probable mental disorders in participants of our previous study (2003-05). We also studied two new randomly chosen samples: those with recent deployment to Afghanistan, and those who had joined the UK armed forces since April, 2003, to ensure that the final sample continued to be representative of the UK armed forces. Between November, 2007, and September, 2009, participants completed a questionnaire about their deployment experiences and health outcomes. 9990 (56%) participants completed the study questionnaire (8278 regulars, 1712 reservists). The prevalence of probable post-traumatic stress disorder was 4.0% (95% CI 3.5-4.5; n=376), 19.7% (18.7-20.6; n=1908) for symptoms of common mental disorders, and 13.0% (12.2-13.8; n=1323) for alcohol misuse. Deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan was significantly associated with alcohol misuse for regulars (odds ratio 1.22, 95% CI 1.02-1.46) and with probable post-traumatic stress disorder for reservists (2.83, 1.23-6.51). Regular personnel in combat roles were more likely than were those in support roles to report probable post-traumatic stress disorder (1.87, 1.26-2.78). There was no association with number of deployments for any outcome. There was some evidence for a small increase in the reporting of probable post-traumatic stress disorder with time since return from deployment in regulars (1.13, 1.03-1.24). Symptoms of common mental disorders and alcohol misuse remain the most frequently reported mental disorders in UK armed forces personnel, whereas the prevalence of probable post-traumatic stress disorder was low. These findings show the importance of continued health surveillance of UK military personnel. UK Ministry of Defence.The Lancet 05/2010; 375(9728):1783-97. · 39.06 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The aim of the present study was to provide a critical review of prevalence estimates of combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among military personnel and veterans, and of the relevant factors that may account for the variability of estimates within and across cohorts, including methodological and conceptual factors accounting for differences in prevalence rates across nations, conflicts/wars, and studies. MEDLINE and PsycINFO databases were examined for literature on combat-related PTSD. The following terms were used independently and in combinations in this search: PTSD, combat, veterans, military, epidemiology, prevalence. The point prevalence of combat-related PTSD in US military veterans since the Vietnam War ranged from approximately 2% to 17%. Studies of recent conflicts suggest that combat-related PTSD afflicts between 4% and 17% of US Iraq War veterans, but only 3-6% of returning UK Iraq War veterans. Thus, the prevalence range is narrower and tends to have a lower ceiling among combat veterans of non-US Western nations. Variability in prevalence is likely due to differences in sampling strategies; measurement strategies; inclusion and measurement of the DSM-IV clinically significant impairment criterion; timing and latency of assessment and potential for recall bias; and combat experiences. Prevalence rates are also likely affected by issues related to PTSD course, chronicity, and comorbidity; symptom overlap with other psychiatric disorders; and sociopolitical and cultural factors that may vary over time and by nation. The disorder represents a significant and costly illness to veterans, their families, and society as a whole. Further carefully conceptualized research, however, is needed to advance our understanding of disorder prevalence, as well as associated information on course, phenomenology, protective factors, treatment, and economic costs.Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 01/2010; 44(1):4-19. · 3.29 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The Veteran's Health Administration (VHA) has launched a large-scale initiative to promote prolonged exposure (PE) therapy, an evidence-based treatment for PTSD. While existing randomized controlled trials (RCTs) unambiguously support the efficacy of PE in civilian and some military populations, there is a need to better understand the course of treatment for combat Veterans of the current wars receiving PE in normative mental healthcare settings. The current study investigates 65 Veterans receiving care at an urban VA medical center. All Veterans were diagnosed with PTSD via a structured interview and treated with PE. Measures of PTSD and depression were collected pre- and post-treatment and every two sessions during treatment. Dependent means t-tests were used to estimate pre- and post-treatment d-type effect sizes. Additionally, hierarchical linear models (HLM) were used to investigate treatment effects over time, relationships between patient characteristics and outcomes, and to provide estimates of R(2)-type effect sizes. Results indicate that PE in regular VA mental healthcare contexts can be as effective as when implemented in carefully conducted RCTs.Journal of anxiety disorders 11/2010; 25(3):397-403. · 2.68 Impact Factor