Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Depression Among U.S. Military Health Care Professionals Deployed in Support of Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan


  • This represents report 11–611, supported by the U.S. Department of Defense, under work unit no. 60002. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of the Army, Department of the Air Force, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

  • The Millennium Cohort Study is funded through the Military Operational Medicine Research Program of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Fort Detrick, Maryland. Resources from the VA Puget Sound Health Care System supported Dr. Boyko's involvement in this research. We thank Scott L. Seggerman, BS, MS, from the Defense Manpower Data Center, Monterey, CA. We also thank the professionals from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, especially those from the Military Operational Medicine Research Program, Fort Detrick, MD. We are indebted to the Millennium Cohort Study team and participants, without whom these analyses would not be possible.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Isabel G. Jacobson, Deployment Health Research Department, Naval Health Research Center, 140 Sylvester Road, San Diego, CA 92106–3521. E-mail:


Limited prospective studies exist that evaluate the mental health status of military health care professionals who have deployed. This study used prospective data from the Millennium Cohort Study with longitudinal analysis techniques to examine whether health care professionals deployed in support of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were more likely to screen positive for new-onset posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression after deployment than individuals from other occupations. Of 65,108 subjects included, 9,371 (14.4%) reported working as health care professionals. The rates of new positive screens for PTSD or depression were similar for those in health care occupations (4.7% and 4.3%) compared with those in other occupations (4.6% and 3.9%) for the first and second follow-up, respectively. Among military personnel deployed with combat experience, health care professionals did not have increased odds for new-onset PTSD or depression over time. Among deployed health care professionals, combat experience significantly increased the odds: adjusted odds ratio = 2.01; 95% confidence interval [1.06, 3.83] for new-onset PTSD or depression. These results suggest that combat experience, not features specific to being a health care professional, was the key exposure explaining the development of these outcomes.