PTSD symptom increases in Iraq-deployed soldiers: Comparison with nondeployed soldiers and associations with baseline symptoms, deployment experiences, and postdeployment stress

Authors

  • Jennifer J. Vasterling,

    Corresponding author
    1. VA National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, and Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
    • Psychology (116B), VA Boston Healthcare System, 150 S. Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
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  • Susan P. Proctor,

    1. VA National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, and Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
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  • Matthew J. Friedman,

    1. VA National Center for PTSD, White River Junction, VT, and Departments of Psychiatry, and Pharmacology, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH
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  • Charles W. Hoge,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Silver Spring, MD
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  • Timothy Heeren,

    1. Department of Biostatistics, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
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  • Lynda A. King,

    1. VA National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, and Department of Psychology, Boston University, Boston, MA
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  • Daniel W. King

    1. VA National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, and Department of Psychology, Boston University, Boston, MA
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  • This work was supported by US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (DAMD 17-03-0020; HSRRB Log No. A-11815) and VA Clinical Sciences Research and Development awards. The work was also supported in part by resources provided by the VA South Central Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center and U.S. Army Research Institute for Environmental Medicine. The U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity (Fort Detrick, MD) is the awarding and administering acquisition office for DAMD 17-03-0020. We are especially grateful to the soldiers who donated their time to participate in the study and the efforts of the key military personnel who facilitated conduct of the study for their units. The study would not have been possible without the high level of support provided by the US Army Forces Command, Command Surgeon's Office in identifying and facilitating access to participating military units. We thank Dr. Brian Marx for his review of an earlier draft of the manuscript, Dr. Helen MacDonald for project management, Ms. Anna Graefe for her assistance with manuscript preparation, the many examiners who volunteered their time toward the conduct of the study, and Time 1 to Time 2 Study Coordinators, Ms. Gina Clausi, Ms. Deborah Arant-Daigle, and Dr. Amy Reggio. Some of the work was completed at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Healthcare System, New Orleans, LA, the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology, Tulane University School of Medicine, and the Tulane University Department of Psychology. The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the government, and no official endorsement should be inferred.

Abstract

This prospective study examined: (a) the effects of Iraq War deployment versus non-deployment on pre- to postdeployment change in PTSD symptoms and (b) among deployed soldiers, associations of deployment/postdeployment stress exposures and baseline PTSD symptoms with PTSD symptom change. Seven hundred seventy-four U.S. Army soldiers completed self-report measures of stress exposure and PTSD symptom severity before and after Iraq deployment and were compared with 309 soldiers who did not deploy. Deployed soldiers, compared with non-deployed soldiers, reported increased PTSD symptom severity from Time 1 to Time 2. After controlling for baseline symptoms, deployment-related stressors contributed to longitudinal increases in PTSD symptoms. Combat severity was more strongly associated with symptom increases among active duty soldiers with higher baseline PTSD symptoms.

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