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Keywords:

  • PTSD;
  • Longitudinal;
  • Gulf War veterans;
  • growth mixture modeling

Abstract

Relatively little is known about the course of PTSD symptoms over time following trauma exposure. Accordingly, this study utilized a specialized structural equation modeling approach, growth mixture modeling, to examine the trajectory of PTSD symptoms across three time points in a sample of Gulf War veterans (n at Time 1 = 2,949, n at Time 2 = 2,313, and n at Time 3 = 1,327). Results were most consistent with a two-group model suggesting that the course of PTSD symptoms following the Gulf War was best characterized by two distinct growth curves: (1) low levels of PTSD symptoms with little increase over time and (2) higher levels of initial symptoms with a significant increase over time. Thus, it appears that response to Gulf War experiences is not homogeneous, and that a subset of individuals may experience relatively more PTSD symptoms over time. In addition, men, Whites, those reporting more education, and those reporting less combat exposure had a significantly higher probability of being classified into the less symptomatic group.