The Influence of combat and interpersonal trauma on PTSD, depression, and alcohol misuse in U.S. Gulf War and OEF/OIF women veterans

Authors

  • Christina M. Hassija,

    Corresponding author
    1. Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle Division, Seattle, Washington, USA
    2. Department of Psychology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, USA
    • National Center for PTSD–VA Palo Alto Health Care System, 795 Willow Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Matthew Jakupcak,

    1. Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle Division, Seattle, Washington, USA
    2. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Shira Maguen,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
    2. San Francisco VA Medical Center, San Francisco, California, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jillian C. Shipherd

    1. VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    2. National Center for PTSD–Women's Health Sciences Division, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    3. Department of Psychiatry, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    Search for more papers by this author

  • This material is the result of work supported by resources from the VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, Washington.

Abstract

The present study evaluated the impact of combat and interpersonal trauma exposure in a sample of 115 U.S. women veterans from Gulf War I and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on 3 postdeployment trauma-related mental health outcomes: posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms (PSS), depressive symptom severity (DSS), and alcohol misuse. Patients presenting for healthcare services at a Veterans Affairs postdeployment health specialty clinic completed screening questionnaires that assessed combat exposure, lifetime interpersonal trauma history of childhood neglect, physical, or sexual abuse, and adult sexual and physical assault. In a regression model, combat exposure was the only significant independent variable associated with PSS, DSS, and alcohol misuse (β = .42, .27 and B = 1.58, respectively) even after adding lifetime interpersonal assault exposure to the model. Results highlight the negative effects of combat exposure on treatment-seeking women veterans' postdeployment mental health. Incorporating combat exposure into routine screening procedures for Gulf War and Iraq and Afghanistan war women veterans can aid in mental health treatment planning.

Ancillary