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Dispositional optimism buffers combat veterans from the negative effects of warzone stress on mental health symptoms and work impairment

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  • Funding for this project came from the Military Operational Medicine Research Area Directorate, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Ft. Detrick, MD.

    Material has been reviewed by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. There is no objection to its presentation and/or publication. The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private views of the authors, and are not to be construed as official, or as reflecting true views of the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.

Abstract

The study examined dispositional optimism s role in buffering the effect of warzone stress on mental health symptoms and mental health symptoms on work impairment. A total of 2,439 soldiers from an active-duty brigade combat team were surveyed following a 12-month deployment to Iraq. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, depression symptoms, combat exposure, deployment demands, and work impairment were measured. Soldiers higher in dispositional optimism showed weaker relationships between combat exposure and PTSD symptoms, and between deployment demands and PTSD and depression symptoms. Dispositional optimism also buffered mental health symptom effects on work impairment. Dispositional optimism may protect soldiers from warzone stress and mental health symptoms. Potential mechanisms explaining how dispositional optimism may serve as a protective factor are discussed. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol 67:1–15, 2011.

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