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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.