Schumm JA, Monson CM, O'Farrell TJ, Gustin NG & Chard KM.
J Trauma Stress, Vol 28(3) 2015 Jun pp. 247-252. PMID: 25965768 [PubMed - in process]
We studied 13 U.S. male military veterans and their female partners who consented to participate in an uncontrolled trial of couple treatment for alcohol use disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder (CTAP). CTAP is a 15‐session, manualized therapy, integrating behavioral couples therapy for alcohol use disorder (AUD) with cognitive–behavioral conjoint therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Due to ineligibility (n = 1) and attrition (n = 3), 9 couples completed the study, and 7 completed 12 or more sessions.
There were 8 veterans who showed clinically reliable pre‐ to posttreatment reduction of PTSD outcomes. There were also significant group‐level reductions in clinician‐, veteran‐, and partner‐rated PTSD symptoms (d = 0.94 to 1.71). Most veterans showed clinically reliable reductions in percentage days of heavy drinking. Group‐level reduction in veterans’ percentage days of heavy drinking was significant (d = 1.01). There were 4 veterans and 3 partners with clinically reliable reductions in depression, and group‐level change was significant for veterans (d = 0.93) and partners (d = 1.06). On relationship satisfaction, 3 veterans and 4 partners had reliable improvements, and 2 veterans and 1 partner had reliable deterioration. Group‐level findings were nonsignificant for veteran relationship satisfaction (d = 0.26) and for partners (d = 0.52).
These findings indicate that CTAP may be a promising intervention for individuals with comorbid PTSD and AUD who have relationship partners.
Voelkel E, Pukay‐Martin ND, Walter KH, Chard KM.
J Trauma Stress, Vol 28(3) Jun 2015 pp. 174-182. PMID: 25976767 [PubMed - in process]
Military sexual trauma (MST) affects approximately 2% and 36% of male and female veterans, respectively, (e.g., Allard, Gregory, Klest, & Platt). Although the deleterious consequences of MST have been clearly established, few studies have explored treatment effectiveness for this population. Using archival data from a residential treatment program, the current study explored the effectiveness of cognitive processing therapy (CPT) in treating full or subthreshold posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to compare U.S. veterans reporting an MST index trauma (MST‐IT) to those without MST‐IT.
Of the 481 participants, 40.7% endorsed MST‐IT. Multiway frequency analyses were utilized to compare men and women with and without MST on baseline demographic variables. Hierarchical linear models were constructed to investigate treatment outcome by MST status and sex.
Results showed that 44.8%, 23.8%, and 19.6% of the variation in clinician‐ and self‐reported PTSD and depression symptoms were explained by three models. Scores on all outcome measures significantly decreased over time for both groups. Additionally, women demonstrated a sharper decrease in PTSD symptoms over time than men. Lastly, men who reported MST‐IT had higher PTSD symptoms than men without MST‐IT on average. With no control group or random assignment, preliminary findings suggest residential treatment including CPT may be effective for MST‐IT regardless of sex.
Hemmy Asamsama O, Dickstein BD & Chard KM.
Psychol Trauma. 2015 May 25. Advance online publication. PMID: 26010112 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Current treatment guidelines for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) recognize that severe depression may limit the effectiveness of trauma-focused interventions, making it necessary to address depression symptomatology first. However, there is a paucity of research providing specific treatment recommendations using a common depression measure like the BeckDepression Inventory-II (BDI-II).
Accordingly, we examined the utility of using BDI-II cutoff scores for predicting response to cognitive processing therapy (CPT). Our sample was 757 military veterans receiving outpatient therapy at a Department of Veterans Affairs specialty clinic. At baseline, the majority of participants (58.9%) reported BDI-II scores suggestive of severe depression, and 459 (60.7%) met DSM–IV diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD).
Despite this high level of depression severity, most participants who completed therapy experienced a clinically significant reduction in symptoms (75.1%). No differences were observed across BDI-II groups on rates of clinically significant change in PTSD symptoms or on rates of treatment completion. Taken together, results suggest that CPT is an effective treatment, even in cases of severe co-occurring depression. Limitations and implications for treatment guidelines are discussed.
Resick P, Wachen JS, Mintz J, Young-McCaughan S, Roache JD, Borah AM, Borah EV, Dondanville KA, Hembree EA, Litz BT, Peterson AL.
J Consult Clin Psychol. 2015 May 4; PMID: 25939018 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Objective: To determine whether group therapy improves symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this randomized clinical trial compared efficacy of group cognitive processing therapy (cognitive only version; CPT-C) with group present-centered therapy (PCT) for active duty military personnel.
Method: Patients attended 90-min groups twice weekly for 6 weeks at Fort Hood, Texas. Independent assessments were administered at baseline, weekly before sessions, and 2 weeks, 6 months, and 12 months post treatment. A total of 108 service members (100 men, 8 women) were randomized. Inclusion criteria included PTSD following military deployment and medication stability.
Exclusion criteria included suicidal/homicidal intent or other severe mental disorders requiring immediate treatment. Follow-up assessments were administered regardless of treatment completion.
Primary outcome measures were the PTSD Checklist (Stressor Specific Version; PCL-S) and Beck Depression Inventory-II. The Posttraumatic Stress Symptom Interview (PSS-1) was a secondary measure.
Results: Both treatments resulted in large reductions in PTSD severity, but improvement was greater in CPT-C. CPT-C also reduced depression, with gains remaining during follow-up. In PCT, depression only improved between baseline and before Session 1. There were few adverse events associated with either treatment.
Conclusions: Both CPT-C and PCT were tolerated well and reduced PTSD symptoms in group format, but only CPT-C improved depression. This study has public policy implications because of the number of active military needing PTSD treatment, and demonstrates that group format of treatment of PTSD results in significant improvement and is well tolerated. Group therapy may an important format in settings in which therapists are limited.
Irwin, K. C., Konnert, C., Wong, M., & O'Neill, T. A. (2014).
Journal Of Traumatic Stress, 27(2), 175-181. doi:10.1002/jts.21897
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and pain are often comorbid among veterans. The purpose of this study was to investigate to what extent symptoms of anxiety, depression, and alcohol use mediated the relationship between PTSDsymptoms and pain among 113 treated male Canadian veterans.
Measures of PTSD, pain, anxiety symptoms, depression symptoms, and alcohol use were collected as part of the initial assessment. The bootstrapped resampling analyses were consistent with the hypothesis of mediation for anxiety and depression, but not alcohol use. The confidence intervals did not include zero and the indirect effect of PTSD on pain through anxiety was .04, CI [.03, .07]. The indirect effect of PTSD on pain through depression was .04, CI [.02, .07].
These findings suggest that PTSD and pain symptoms among veterans may be related through the underlying symptoms of anxiety and depression, thus emphasizing the importance of targeting anxiety and depression symptoms when treating comorbid PTSD and pain patients.
St. Cyr, K., McIntyre-Smith, A., Contractor, A. A., Elhai, J. D., & Richardson, J. D.
Psychiatry Research,218(1-2), 148-152. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2014.03.038
This study examined the association between somatic complaints and health-related quality of life (HR-QoL) in treatment-seeking Canadian military personnel with military-related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Current and formerCanadian Forces (CF) members attending the Parkwood Hospital Operational Stress Injury Clinic in London, Ontario (N = 291) were administered self-report questionnaires assessing number and severity of somatic complaints, PTSD and depressive symptom severity, and mental and physical health-related quality of life (HR-QoL) prior to commencing treatment. Regression analyses were used to identify the role of somatic complaints on physical and mental HR-QoL, after controlling for PTSD symptom cluster and depressive symptom severity.
Somatic symptom severity accounted for only a small amount of the variance in mental HR-QoL after accounting for PTSD symptom cluster and depressive symptom severity, but accounted for a larger proportion of the variance in physical HR-QoL after accounting for PTSD cluster and depressive symptom severity.
Understanding the role of somatization in the symptom-presentation of military personnel with PTSD may provide additional avenues for treatment with this population.
Jetly, R., Heber, A., Fraser, G., & Boisvert, D.
Psychoneuroendocrinology, 51585-588. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.11.002
Objective: Investigate the efficacy of nabilone capsules (NAB) in reducing the frequency and intensity of nightmares in subjects with PTSD.
Patients and methods: Canadian male military personnel with PTSD, who despite standard treatment continued to experience trauma-related nightmares, received double-blind treatment with 0.5mg NAB or placebo (PBO), and then titrated to the effective dose (nightmare suppression) or reaching a maximum of 3.0mg. Subjects were followed for 7 weeks and then, following a 2-week washout period, were titrated with the other study treatment and followed for an additional 7 weeks. The modified intent-to-treat (mITT) population, which included all treated subjects that met inclusion/exclusion criteria, was analyzed.
Results: Ten subjects were included in the mITT population. The mean reduction in nightmares as measured by the CAPS Recurring and Distressing Dream scores were −3.6 ± 2.4 and −1.0 ± 2.1 in the NAB and PBO groups, respectively (p =0.03). Mean global improvement as measured by the Clinical Global Impression of Change (CGI-C) was 1.9 ± 1.1 (i.e. much improved) and 3.2 ± 1.2 (i.e. minimally improved) in the NAB and PBO groups, respectively (p =0.05) Five out of 10 (50%) were much improved on NAB versus 1 out of 9 (11%) on PBO. Results for the General Well Being Questionnaire (WBQ) were 20.8 ± 22 and −0.4 ± 20.6 in the NAB and PBO groups, respectively (p = 0.04). The proportion of subjects who experienced a treatment-related occurrence of adverse events was 50% in the NBO group and 60% in the PBO group. No event was severe nor resulted in a drop-out. This study is registered with Health Canada.
Conclusion: In this small sample NAB provided significant relief for military personnel with PTSD, indicating that it shows promise as a clinically-relevant treatment for patients with nightmares and a history of non-response to traditional therapies. These findings need to be replicated in a larger cohort. There is a need for further exploration of the effect of nabilone on other symptoms of PTSD such as re-experiencing, hyper vigilance and insomnia.
Reijnen, A., Rademaker, A. R., Vermetten, E., & Geuze, E.
European Psychiatry: The Journal Of The Association Of European Psychiatrists, 30(2), 341-346. doi:10.1016/j.eurpsy.2014.05.003
Objective: Recent studies in troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that combat exposure and exposure to deployment-related stressors increase the risk for the development of mental health symptoms. The aim of this study is to assess the prevalence of mental health symptoms in a cohort of Dutch military personnel prior to and at multiple time-points after deployment.
Methods: Military personnel (n=994) completed various questionnaires at 5 time-points; starting prior to deployment and following the same cohort at 1 and 6months and 1 and 2years after their return from Afghanistan.
Results: The prevalence of symptoms of fatigue, PTSD, hostility, depression and anxiety was found to significantly increase after deployment compared with pre-deployment rates. As opposed to depressive symptoms and fatigue, the prevalence ofPTSD was found to decrease after the 6-month assessment. The prevalence of sleeping problems and hostility remained relatively stable.
Conclusions: The prevalence of mental health symptoms in military personnel increases after deployment, however, symptoms progression over time appears to be specific for various mental health symptoms. Comprehensive screening and monitoring for a wide range of mental health symptoms at multiple time-points after deployment is essential for early detection and to provide opportunities for intervention.
O'Donovan, A., Cohen, B. E., Seal, K. H., Bertenthal, D., Margaretten, M., Nishimi, K., & Neylan, T. C. (2015).
Biological Psychiatry, 77(4), 365-374. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.06.015
Background: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with endocrine and immune abnormalities that could increase risk for autoimmune disorders. However, little is known about the risk for autoimmune disorders among individuals with PTSD.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 666,269 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans under age 55 who were enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system between October 7, 2001, and March 31, 2011. Generalized linear models were used to examine if PTSD, other psychiatric disorders, and military sexual trauma exposure increased risk for autoimmune disorders, including thyroiditis, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus erythematosus, adjusting for age, gender, race, and primary care visits.
Results: PTSD was diagnosed in 203,766 veterans (30.6%), and psychiatric disorders other than PTSD were diagnosed in an additional 129,704 veterans (19.5%). Veterans diagnosed with PTSD had significantly higher adjusted relative risk (ARR) for diagnosis with any of the autoimmune disorders alone or in combination compared with veterans with no psychiatric diagnoses (ARR = 2.00; 95% confidence interval, 1.91-2.09) and compared with veterans diagnosed with psychiatric disorders other than PTSD (ARR = 1.51; 95% confidence interval, 1.43-1.59; p < .001). The magnitude of the PTSD-related increase in risk for autoimmune disorders was similar in women and men, and military sexual trauma exposure was independently associated with increased risk in both women and men.
Conclusions: Trauma exposure and PTSD may increase risk for autoimmune disorders. Altered immune function, lifestyle factors, or shared etiology may underlie this association.
Burkhart, L., & Hogan, N. (2015).
Social Work In Mental Health, 13(2), 108-127. doi:10.1080/15332985.2013.870102
Female veterans, the fastest growing segment in the military, have unique pre-military histories and military experiences that are associated with post-military physical and mental health service needs. Successful treatment is contingent on a clearer understanding of the processes underlying these experiences.
Data from 20 female veterans who served post–Gulf War were analyzed to generate a substantive theory of the process of women who entered, served in, and transitioned out of the military. Coping with transitions emerged as the basic psychosocial process used by female veterans. The Coping with Transitions process is comprised of seven categories:Choosing the Military, Adapting to the Military, Being in the Military, Being a Female in the Military, Departing the Military, Experiencing Stressors of Being a Civilian,and Making Meaning of Being a Veteran-Civilian.
The results of this study provide a theoretical description of the process female veterans experience when transitioning from a civilian identity, through military life stressors and adaptations, toward gaining a dual identity of being a veteran-civilian.
Cawkill, P., Jones, M., Fear, N. T., Jones, N., Fertout, M., Wessely, S., & Greenberg, N. (2015).
Occupational Medicine (Oxford, England), 65(2), 157-164.
Abstract: Background: The mental health effects of deployment vary widely, and personnel in both combat and combat support roles, including medical personnel, may be adversely affected.
Aims: To compare the mental health of deployed UK military medical staff in both forward and rear locations and to compare these two groups with other deployed military personnel.
Methods: Participants were medics who had deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and provided information about their deployed role, experiences during and on return from deployment and demographic and military factors. Health outcomes included common mental health problems (using 12-item General Health Questionnaire), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD, using 17-item Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist-Civilian Version), multiple physical symptoms and alcohol use (using 10-item Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test).
Results: The sample comprised 321 medical personnel. The response rate was 56%. The mental health outcomes for forward located medics (FMs) were no different than those for rear located medics (RLMs). When comparing FMs and RLMs against all other military roles, a small but significant increase in PTSD symptoms in FMs was found. FMs were more likely to rate their work while deployed as being above their skills and experience, report exposure to more combat experiences and report a more challenging homecoming experience than RLMs.
Conclusions: These results suggest that while the overall rates of self-reported mental health disorders were similar in FMs and RLMs, FMs reported more PTSD symptoms than all other roles, which may have been related to working in more hostile environments in more challenging roles while deployed and their experiences on returning home.
Writer BW, Meyer EG, Schillerstrom JE.
The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, Vol 26(1), Win 2014. pp.24-33. Publisher: American Psychiatric Assn [Journal Article]
Abstract: Military combat is a common trauma experience associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Trauma-related nightmares are a hallmark symptom of PTSD. They can be resistant to label-pharmacological PTSD treatment, and they are associated with a variety of adverse health outcomes. The purpose of this article is to review and evaluate prazosin therapy for combat-related PTSD nightmares. Consistent with available literature for all-causes PTSD nightmares, prazosin is an effective off-label option for combat-related PTSD nightmares. Future trials may further instruct use in specific combat-exposure profiles.
Abstract: Background: There is increasing recognition that, in addition to negative psychological consequences of trauma such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), some individuals may develop post-traumatic growth (PTG) following such experiences. To date, however, data regarding the prevalence, correlates and functional significance of PTG in population-based samples are lacking. Read more . . .
Borders A, Rothman DJ, McAndrew LM.
Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, Vol 7(1), Jan, 2015. pp.76-84. Publisher: Educational Publishing Foundation [Journal Article]
Abstract: Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) veterans have high rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and sleep problems. Identifying potential contributing factors to these mental health problems is crucial for improving treatments in this population. Rumination, or repeated thoughts about negative experiences, is associated with worse PTSD, depression, and sleep problems in nonveterans. Therefore, we hypothesized that rumination would be associated with worse sleep problems, PTSD, and depressive symptoms in OIF/OEF veterans. Additionally, we proposed a novel hypothesis that sleep problems are a mechanism by which rumination contributes to depressive and PTSD symptoms.
In this cross-sectional study, 89 OIF/OEF veterans completed measures of trait rumination, sleep problems, and PTSD and depressive symptoms. Analyses confirmed that greater rumination was associated with worse functioning on all mental health measures. Moreover, greater global sleep problems statistically mediated the association between higher rumination and more PTSD and depressive symptoms. Specifically, sleep disturbance and daytime somnolence but not sleep quantity emerged as significant mediators.
Although it is impossible with the current nonexperimental data to test causal mediation, these results support the idea that rumination could contribute to impaired sleep, which in turn could contribute to psychological symptoms. We suggest that interventions targeting both rumination and sleep problems may be an effective way to treat OIF/OEF veterans with PTSD or depressive symptoms.
Abstract: Research indicates that concerns about disruption of family relationships during military service may be associated with greater posttraumatic stress symptomatology. The current study sought to extend previous findings by examining the relative odds of a posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis among Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) veterans with dependent children versus veterans without dependent children. Administrative databases were queried to identify 36,334 OEF/OIF veterans with dependent children seeking care in the Veterans Health Administration (VA) during fiscal years 2006–2009. These veterans were matched 1:1 on age, gender, and demobilization date to veterans without dependent children (N = 72,668). In unconditional analyses, OEF/OIF veterans with dependent children versus those without were significantly more likely to incur a PTSD diagnosis (44% vs. 28%).
After controlling for demographic variables, mental health utilization, and other serious mental illness, OEF/OIF veterans with dependent children were about 40% more likely to carry a diagnosis of PTSD. The association was stronger for men than for women. It may be of value for clinicians to consider parental status when assessing and treating veterans with PTSD. In-depth study of OEF/OIF veterans is needed to determine whether disruption of family relationships leads to increased psychological stress or parents are more likely than nonparents to seek VA mental health services for PTSD symptoms.
Pietrzak RH, Rosenheck RA, Cramer J A, Vessichio J C, Tsai, J, Southwick SM, Krystal JH. VA CSP 504 Collaborative Group
Journal of Affective Disorders, Vol 172, Feb 1, 2015. pp.331-336. Publisher: Elsevier Science [Journal Article]
Abstract: Background: Three of the most common trauma-related mental disorders—posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)—are highly comorbid and share common transdiagnostic symptom dimensions of threat (i.e., fear) and loss (i.e., dysphoria) symptomatology. However, empirical evaluation of the dimensional structure of component aspects of these disorders is lacking. Read more . . .
Robert Semrau, a former Officer with the Canadian Forces, wrote an open letter to all the men and women of the Canadian Forces and coalition allies. The letter is made available by the CBC radio ("the current" with Anna Maria Tremonti):
Polusny MA, Kumpula MJ, Meis LA, Erbes CR, Arbisi PA, Murdoch M, Thuras P, Kehle-Forbes SM, & Johnson AK.
J Psychiatr Res. 2013 Oct 5
OBJECTIVE: Although women in the military are exposed to combat and its aftermath, little is known about whether combat as well as pre-deployment risk/protective factors differentially predict post-deployment PTSD symptoms among women compared to men. The current study assesses the influence of combat-related stressors and pre-deployment risk/protective factors on women's risk of developing PTSD symptoms following deployment relative to men's risk. Read more . . .
Pigeon WR, Campbell CE, Possemato K, & Ouimette P.
J Psychosom Res. 2013 Dec;75(6):546-50 PMID: 24290044 [PubMed - in process]
OBJECTIVE: This observational, longitudinal study of veterans with recent combat exposure describes the prevalence, severity and associations of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), insomnia, and nightmares over time. Read more . . .
Levine AB, Levine LM, & Levine TB.
Cardiology. 2013 Oct 24;127(1):1-19 PMID: 24157651 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
The need for addressing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among combat veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq is a growing public health concern. Current PTSD management addresses psychiatric parameters of this condition. However, PTSD is not simply a psychiatric disorder. Traumatic stress increases the risk for inflammation-related somatic diseases and early mortality.
The metabolic syndrome reflects the increased health risk associated with combat stress and PTSD. Obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease are prevalent among PTSD patients. However, there has been little appreciation for the need to address these somatic PTSD comorbidities.
Medical professionals treating this vulnerable population should screen patients for cardiometabolic risk factors and avail themselves of existing preventive diet, exercise, and pharmacologic modalities that will reduce such risk factors and improve overall long-term health outcomes and quality of life. There is the promise that cardiometabolic preventive therapy complementing psychiatric intervention may, in turn, help improve the posttraumatic stress system dysregulation and favorably impact psychiatric and neurologic function.
Curry JF, Aubuchon-Endsley N, Brancu M, Runnals JJ, Va Mid-Atlantic Mirecc Women Veterans Research Workgroup, Va Mid-Atlantic Mirecc Registry Workgroup, & Fairbank JA.
J Affect Disord. 2013 Oct 16; PMID: 24210623 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
BACKGROUND: Most research on women veterans' mental health has focused on postraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or reactions to military sexual trauma. Although depression is also a frequent diagnosis among women veterans, little is known about its characteristics, including comorbid conditions and patterns of disorder onset. We investigated lifetime diagnoses of major depressive disorder (MDD) and comorbid conditions in a primarily treatment-seeking research sample of male and female veterans to determine frequency of lifetime MDD, comorbid disorders and their temporal onset. Read more . . .
Back SE, Killeen TK, Teer AP, Hartwell EE, Federline A, Beylotte F, & Cox E.
Addict Behav. 2013 Oct 5; PMID: 24199930 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
BACKGROUND: Substance use disorders (SUDs) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) frequently co-occur among Veterans and are associated with poor treatment outcomes. Historically, treatments for SUDs and PTSD have been delivered sequentially and independently. More recently, however, integrated treatments have shown promise. This study investigated Veterans' perceptions of the interrelationship between SUDs and PTSD, as well as treatment preferences. Read more . . .
Turchik JA, Rafie S, Rosen CS, & Kimerling R.
Am J Mens Health. 2013 Nov 14; PMID: 24232582 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
No prior research has examined men's opinions or preferences regarding receiving health education materials related to sexual violence. The objective of the current study was to investigate whether male veteran patients who have experienced military sexual trauma (MST) prefer gender-targeted versus gender-neutral printed health information and whether receipt of this information increased utilization of outpatient mental health services in the following 6-month period.
In-person 45-minute interviews were conducted with 20 male veterans receiving health care services at a large Veterans Health Administration facility to evaluate opinions on a gender-targeted and a gender-neutral brochure about MST. An additional 153 veterans received psychoeducational materials through the mail and participated in the completion of a survey as part of a psychoeducational intervention.
Our results demonstrate that male veterans prefer gender-targeted information about sexual trauma compared to gender-neutral information. Whereas veterans in the study had clear preferences for gender-targeted materials, receipt of information about MST (whether gender-targeted or gender-neutral) did not increase utilization of mental health care in the 6 months following receipt of these materials. These results demonstrated that materials about sexual trauma are acceptable to men and should be gender-targeted. Further research is needed to examine strategies to increase access to mental health care among male Veterans who have experienced MST.
Dickstein BD, Walter KH, Schumm JA, & Chard KM. J Trauma Stress. 2013 Nov 15; PMID: 24243661 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Research suggests that subthreshold posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology is associated with increased risk for psychological and functional impairment, including increased risk for suicidal ideation. However, it does not appear that any studies to date have investigated whether subthreshold PTSD can effectively be treated with evidence-based, trauma-focused treatment. Accordingly, we tested response to cognitive processing therapy (CPT) in 2 groups of military veterans receiving care at a VA outpatient specialty clinic, 1 with subthreshold PTSD at pretreatment (n = 51) and the other with full, diagnostic PTSD (n = 483).
Multilevel analysis revealed that both groups experienced a significant decrease in PTSD symptoms over the course of therapy (the full and subthreshold PTSD groups experienced an average decrease of 1.79 and 1.52 points, respectively, on the PTSD Checklist with each increment of time, which was coded from 0 at pretreatment to 13 at posttreatment). After controlling for pretreatment symptom severity, a between-groups difference was not found.
These results suggest that CPT is an effective form of treatment among military veterans, and that its effectiveness does not differ between subthreshold and threshold groups.
Nichols LO, Martindale-Adams J, Graney MJ, Zuber J, & Burns R.
Health Commun. 2013 Oct 17; PMID: 24134192 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Spouses of returning Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom, OIF) and Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom, OEF) military service members report increased depression and anxiety post deployment as they work to reintegrate the family and service member. Reconnecting the family, renegotiating roles that have shifted, reestablishing communication patterns, and dealing with mental health concerns are all tasks that spouses must undertake as part of reintegration.
We tested telephone support groups focusing on helping spouses with these basic reintegration tasks. Year-long telephone support groups focused on education, skills building (communication skills, problem solving training, cognitive behavioral techniques, stress management), and support.
Spouse depression and anxiety were decreased and perceived social support was increased during the course of the study. In subgroup analyses, spouses with husbands whose injuries caused care difficulties had a positive response to the intervention. However, they were more likely to be depressed, be anxious, and have less social support compared to participants who had husbands who had no injury or whose injury did not cause care difficulty.
Study findings suggest that this well-established, high-access intervention can help improve quality of life for military spouses who are struggling with reintegration of the service member and family.
Lehavot K, Der-Martirosian C, Simpson TL, Shipherd JC, & Washington DL.
J Trauma Stress. 2013 Nov 6; PMID: 24203114 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a significant predictor of both poorer physical health and increased health care utilization, whereas adequate social support is associated with better physical health and less health care utilization. However, research has not previously examined the simultaneous effects of PTSD and social support on health and health care utilization.
This study examined both the independent and interactive effects of PTSD and a particular type of social support (postactive-duty social support from military friends) on self-reported physical health and number of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) visits in the last year. These relationships were examined in a representative, national sample of 3,524 women veterans who completed telephone interviews as part of the National Survey of Women Veterans in 2008-2009. Regression analyses were conducted using these cross-sectional data to examine main effects of PTSD and military social support on physical health and VHA utilization and their interaction.
Screening positive for PTSD was associated with poorer health (B = -3.19, SE = 1.47) and increased VHA utilization (B = 0.98, SE = 0.16), whereas greater military social support was associated with better health (B = 0.97, SE = 0.44) and less frequent VHA utilization (B = -0.15, SE = 0.05). Neither moderation model was significant, such that military social support behaved in a similar way regardless of PTSD status.
Knobloch LK, Ebata AT, McGlaughlin PC, & Ogolsky B.
Health Commun. 2013 Oct 17; PMID: 24134220 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
During reunion following wartime deployment, military couples are at risk for both depression and relationship distress ( Bowling & Sherman, 2008 ). This article applies the relational turbulence model ( Knobloch & Theiss, 2011a ; Solomon & Theiss, 2011 ) to understand the difficulty military couples may experience upon homecoming. One hundred and eighteen military couples completed an online questionnaire once per month for the first 3 months upon reunion following wartime deployment.
Multilevel modeling results indicated that people's depressive symptoms (H1), relational uncertainty (H2), and interference from partners (H3) predicted their difficulty with reintegration. A few partner effects were apparent as well. These findings illuminate the dynamics of the reunion period, extend the relational turbulence model, and suggest guidelines for helping military couples preserve well-being during reintegration following wartime deployment.
Kelly PJ, Nilsson J, & Berkel L.
Women Health. 2013 Nov 26; PMID: 24279913 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
ABSTRACT Background: Military deployment, especially in combat or dangerous areas, can have a strong influence on subsequent mental health. This effect may be intensified as a result of the potential stigma that admission of mental health problems indicates weakness. Additional mental health issues exist for female soldiers from the National Guard who are pulled from non-military environments to work under dangerous conditions far from home and traditional social support. Minimal documentation is available about the day-to-day, gendered experiences of deployment for this group of female soldiers. To provide background for appropriate training and support, the aim of this study was to understand better the experiences of military deployment for women in the National Guard.
Methods: We used content analysis to analyze individual, semi-structured interviews with a sample of 42 women from seven U.S. National Guard units who were deployed in combat areas.
Results: Four general themes emerged about deployment experience: the general environment of stress, heterogeneous job responsibilities, home comes with you, and gendered stress.
Discussion: Military efforts are needed to address gender-specific issues associated with deployment and to develop resilience training that will optimize the mental health of female soldiers.
Keane TM, Docherty JP, Jesse RL, Lee J, McNurlen J, & Zeller E.
J Clin Psychiatry. 2013 Oct;74(10):e20 PMID: 24229760 [PubMed - in process]
As more service members return from war zones around the world, clinicians must be prepared to treat them. Veterans with PTSD and other mental disorders must overcome the stigma associated with seeking treatment, and clinicians must equip these patients and their family members to deal with challenging symptoms. Clinicians should learn about military culture and jargon to better understand these patients and should become familiar with veteran resources to direct veterans and their families to the appropriate services. Clinicians may also need to communicate with their patients' employers to help both parties deal with illnesses such as PTSD. A coordinated effort is needed to meet the needs of veterans and their families, and clinicians play an integral role in recognizing and meeting those needs.
Mota NP, Medved M, Whitney D, Hiebert-Murphy D, & Sareen J.
Can J Psychiatry. 2013 Oct;58(10):570-8 PMID: 24165104 [PubMed - in process]
Objective: Although military interest in promoting psychological resilience is growing, resources protective against psychopathology have been understudied in female service members. Using a representative sample of Canadian Forces personnel, we investigated whether religious attendance, spirituality, coping, and social support were related to mental disorders and psychological distress in female service members, and whether sex differences occurred in these associations. Read more . . .
Gros DF, Price M, Yuen EK, & Acierno R.
Depress Anxiety. 2013 Nov;30(11):1107-13
BACKGROUND: Despite large-scale dissemination and implementation efforts of evidence-based psychotherapy to veterans from Operation Enduring/Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF), little is known regarding the factors that contribute to the successful completion of these treatments in this high-risk population. The present study investigated predictors of treatment completion during a standardized exposure-based psychotherapy for PTSD. Read more . . .
Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC).
MSMR. 2013 Oct;20(10):2-6 PMID: 24191766 [PubMed - in process]
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress; however, in individuals with anxiety disorder, the anxiety becomes chronic and exaggerated, and affects the physical and psychological health of the individual. The main types of anxiety disorders are generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Incident diagnoses of anxiety disorders among active component service members steadily increased from 2000 to 2012. A majority of incident anxiety disorder diagnoses were "non-specific" anxiety disorders (ICD-9-CM codes: 300.0, 300.00, or 300.09) and over 75 percent of service members diagnosed with "non-specific" anxiety disorders did not have a more specific anxiety disorder diagnosis during subsequent medical encounters. Incidence rates of anxiety disorders were highest among females, white, non-Hispanics, in the youngest age groups, and among recruits and junior enlisted service members. About one-third of anxiety disorder cases also had a co-occurring diagnosis of either adjustment or depressive disorder within one year before or after the incident anxiety disorder encounter.
Taylor MK, Larson GE, & Norman SB.
Mil Med. 2013 Oct;178(10):1065-1070
Anger and anger expression (ANGX) are concerns in the U.S. military population and have been linked to stress dysregulation, heart disease, and poor coping behaviors.
OBJECTIVE: We examined associations between depression, pain, and anger expression among military veterans.
METHOD: Subjects (N = 474) completed a depression scale, a measure of pain across the last 4 weeks, and an ANGX scale. A multiple regression model assessed the independent and additive relationships of depression and pain to ANGX. Read more . . .
Veitch DP, Friedl EK, & Weiner WM.
Curr Alzheimer Res. 2013 Aug 2; PMID: 23906002 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Delayed neurological health consequences of environmental exposures during military service have been generally underappreciated. The rapidly expanding understanding of Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathogenesis now makes it possible to quantitate some of the likely longterm health risks associated with military service. Military risk factors for AD include both factors elevated in military personnel such as tobacco use, traumatic brain injury (TBI), depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other nonspecific risk factors for AD including, vascular risk factors such as obesity and obesity-related diseases (e.g., metabolic syndrome), education and physical fitness. The degree of combat exposure, Vietnam era Agent Orange exposure and Gulf War Illness may also influence risk for AD.
Using available data on the association of AD and specific exposures and risk factors, the authors have conservatively estimated 423,000 new cases of AD in veterans by 2020, including 140,000 excess cases associated with specific military exposures. The cost associated with these excess cases is approximately $5.8 billion to $7.8 billion. Mitigation of the potential impact of military exposures on the cognitive function of veterans and management of modifiable risk factors through specifically designed programs will be instrumental in minimizing the impact of AD in veteransin the future decades.
Tracie Shea M, Reddy MK, Tyrka AR, & Sevin E.
Psychiatry Res. 2013 Sep 17; PMID: 24054062 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Identification of factors that increase risk for PTSD in military personnel following deployments is critical to early intervention and prevention. The study tested hypothesized main and moderating risk factors for PTSD in National Guard/Reserve members deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Members of the National Guard/Reserves (n=238) completed diagnostic interviews and measures of risk factors at a post-deployment assessment conducted an average of four and a half months following return from deployment. Hierarchical multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to test hypotheses.
Higher levels of combat exposure, life and family concerns during deployment, and post-deployment social support independently predicted PTSD. Life/family concerns during deployment and perceived adequacy of training and preparation were significant moderators of the association between combat exposure and PTSD. Among those with higher levels of both combat exposure and life and family stress, 27% had PTSD in contrast to 3% of those with high exposure but lower levels of such stress during deployment.
In addition to combat exposure, life and family stress during deployment is a particularly important predictor of PTSD. The findings highlight the importance of identifying and addressing such stress.
Staples JK, Hamilton MF, & Uddo M.
Mil Med. 2013 Aug;178(8):854-60 PMID: 23929045 [PubMed - in process]
The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of a yoga program as an adjunctive therapy for improving post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in Veterans with military-related PTSD. Veterans (n = 12) participated in a 6 week yoga intervention held twice a week.
There was significant improvement in PTSD hyperarousal symptoms and overall sleep quality as well as daytime dysfunction related to sleep. There were no significant improvements in the total PTSD, anger, or quality of life outcome scores. These results suggest that this yoga program may be an effective adjunctive therapy for improving hyperarousal symptoms of PTSD including sleep quality.
This study demonstrates that the yoga program is acceptable, feasible, and that there is good adherence in a Veteran population.
Pompili M, Sher L, Serafini G, Forte A, Innamorati M, Dominici G, Lester D, Amore M, & Girardi P.
J Nerv Ment Dis. 2013 Sep;201(9):802-12 PMID: 23995037 [PubMed - in process]
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is frequently associated with suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Suicide is an important cause of death in veterans, and the risk for intentional death continues to be high many years after service. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether there is a relationship between PTSD and suicidal behavior among veterans. We also discussed the risk factors of suicide among war veterans with PTSD.
A systematic review was conducted focusing on war-related PTSD and suicidal behavior. A total of 80 articles from peer-reviewed journals were identified, 34 were assessed for eligibility, and 16 were included. Having a history of PTSD is associated with higher rates of morbidity and mortality and increased the risk for suicidal behavior. The association between PTSD and suicidal behavior was confirmed by the presence of other risk factors and high rates of comorbidity. Current suicidal behavior should be adequately assessed in war veterans.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have produced historically low rates of fatalities, injuries, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among U.S. combatants. Yet they have also produced historically unprecedented rates of PTSD disability compensation seeking from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The purpose of this article is to consider hypotheses that might potentially resolve this paradox, including high rates of PTSD, delayed onset PTSD, malingered PTSD, and economic variables.
Holland, Jason M.; Lisman, Ross; & Currier, Joseph M.
Rehabilitation Psychology, Vol 58(3), Aug 2013, 280-286.
Objective: Research has demonstrated that a substantial number of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) also contend with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One possible contributing factor for the development and/or exacerbation of PTSD symptoms among individuals with mTBI could involve challenges processing trauma and integrating their memories into existing global meaning systems. The goal of this study was to provide a preliminary examination of whether meaning made of trauma could account for the association between mTBI and PTSD (i.e., reexperiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal symptoms). Read more . . .
Goodson JT, Lefkowitz CM, Helstrom AW, & Gawrysiak MJ.
J Trauma Stress. 2013 Aug;26(4):419-25 PMID: 23934939 [PubMed - in process]
Prolonged Exposure (PE) is an evidenced-based psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that is being disseminated nationally within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with promising initial results. Empirical evidence, however, regarding the effectiveness of PE for treatment of PTSD in military veterans is limited.
Building on previous treatment outcome research, the current study investigated the effectiveness of PE in a diverse veteran sample. One-hundred fifteen veterans were enrolled in PE at an urban VA medical center and its surrounding outpatient clinics. PTSD and depression symptoms as well as quality of life were measured before and after treatment. Several baseline patient characteristics were examined as predictors of treatment response.
Eighty-four participants completed treatment. Participants experienced a 42% reduction in PTSD symptoms, a 31% reduction in depression symptoms, and an increase in quality of life following PE. Veterans not prescribed psychotropic medication reported greater PTSD symptom reduction than veterans prescribed such medication. The implications of these results for treatment programs targeting PTSD in veterans are discussed.
Fetzner MG, Abrams MP, & Asmundson GJ.
Can J Psychiatry. 2013 Jul;58(7):417-25 PMID: 23870724 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
OBJECTIVE: Alcohol misuse is common among military veterans affected by posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression; however, research to date has provided mixed evidence concerning differential associations among PTSD and depressive symptoms in relation to alcohol misuse. Further, most available studies have examined primarily male samples or have dichotomously grouped participants as either having or not having an alcohol use disorder. Our study sought to explore relations among 2 aspects of alcohol misuse (that is, alcohol-related problems, and quantity or frequency of alcohol use) and symptoms of PTSD and depression in independent samples of female and male military veterans. Read more . . .
Crum-Cianflone NF. & Jacobson I.
Epidemiol Rev. 2013 Aug 29; PMID: 23988441 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Despite the marked expansion of roles for women in the US military over the last decade, whether differences by gender exist in regard to the development of mental health conditions postdeployment is unclear. This comprehensive review of the literature (2001-2012) examined whether US servicewomen were more likely than men to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after returning from deployments to the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
Findings from 18 studies from 8 unique study populations were reviewed. Seven studies found that women had a higher risk for screening positive for PTSD compared with men, including prospectively designed studies that evaluated new-onset PTSD among members from all service branches. Although results from studies with Veterans Affairs samples found women at decreased risk in 4 analyses, these studies used the same source databases, were conducted in treatment-seeking populations, and were mostly unable to account for combat experience. Seven studies detected no differences by gender.
In summary, women appeared to have a moderately higher risk for postdeployment PTSD, although there was a lack of consensus among the studies, and even those with the most rigorous methods were not designed specifically to evaluate potential gender differences. Given the limitations of the published literature, further research should use longitudinal study designs and comprehensive evaluations of deployment experiences while adjusting for predeployment factors to confirm that gender differences exist with regard to postdeployment PTSD.
Schumm, Jeremiah A.; Walter, Kristen H.; & Chard, Kathleen M..
Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, Jul 29 , 2013, No Pagination Specified.
Despite demonstrated effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapies for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there is limited research on the trajectory of PTSD symptom change during the course of these therapies. In addition, existent findings are mixed, making it difficult to know how individuals’ PTSD symptoms will change from week to week during psychotherapy.
The study presented here uses general growth mixture modeling (GGMM) to test the hypothesis that multiple latent classes will explain individual differences in PTSD symptom change during the course of cognitive processing therapy (CPT). Read more . . .
Michelle L. Kelleya, Jennifer Runnalsb, Matthew R. Pearson, et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Available online 13 August 2013.
The present study examined lifespan and combat-related trauma exposure as predictors of alcohol use among male and female veterans. Posttraumatic stress and depressive symptoms were examined as mediators of the effects of trauma exposure on alcohol use.
Methods: Data were examined from 1825 (1450 male, 375 female) veterans and active duty service members who took part in a multi-site research study conducted through the Department of Veterans Affairs Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Centers (VISN 6 MIRECC).
Results: For both men and women, depressive symptoms significantly mediated the effects of non-combat trauma exposure experienced before, during and after the military, as well as combat- exposure, on alcohol use. With posttraumatic stress symptoms, the models for men and women differed. For men, the effects of non-combat trauma exposure during and after military service, and combat exposure, on alcohol use were mediated by PTSD symptoms; however, for women, PTSD symptoms did not mediate these relationships.
Conclusion: Findings are discussed in the context of potential gender differences in response to trauma such as use of alcohol to cope with traumatic events.
Lester, Patricia; Stein, Judith A.; Saltzman, William; Woodward, Kirsten, et al..
Military Medicine, Volume 178, Number 8, August 2013 , pp. 838-845(8)
Family-centered preventive interventions have been proposed as relevant to mitigating psychological health risk and promoting resilience in military families facing wartime deployment and reintegration. This study evaluates the impact of a family-centered prevention program, Families OverComing Under Stress Family Resilience Training (FOCUS), on the psychological adjustment of military children. Read more . . .
Naomi L. Baum, Danny Brom, & Ruth Pat-Horenczyk, et al..
Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma.
Soldiers moving from the army to civilian life encounter significant challenges during this time of transition, both in Israel and internationally. Identifying this period of time as a critical one, the Peace of Mind program is an innovative intervention designed specifically to address the issues occurring therein. This unique model focuses on mental health and normalization of responses, as well as on the processing of traumatic experiences. It is based on the considerable experience at the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma in the fields of resilience building and trauma treatment. After reviewing the literature on returning soldiers, the model is described and several vignettes are presented.
Lester P., Stein JA., Saltzman W., Woodward K., Macdermid SW., Milburn N., Mogil C., & Beardslee W..
Military Medicine, Volume 178, Number 8, August 2013 , pp. 838-845(8)
Family-centered preventive interventions have been proposed as relevant to mitigating psychological health risk and promoting resilience in military families facing wartime deployment and reintegration. This study evaluates the impact of a family-centered prevention program, Families OverComing Under Stress Family Resilience Training (FOCUS), on the psychological adjustment of military children. Two primary goals include (1) understanding the relationships of distress among family members using a longitudinal path model to assess relations at the child and family level and (2) determining pathways of program impact on child adjustment.
Multilevel data analysis using structural equation modeling was conducted with deidentified service delivery data from 280 families (505 children aged 3-17) in two follow-up assessments. Standardized measures included service member and civilian parental distress (Brief Symptom Inventory, PTSD Checklist-Military), child adjustment (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire), and family functioning (McMaster Family Assessment Device).
Distress was significantly related among the service member parent, civilian parent, and children. FOCUS improved family functioning, which in turn significantly reduced child distress at follow-up. Salient components of improved family functioning in reducing child distress mirrored resilience processes targeted by FOCUS. These findings underscore the public health potential of family-centered prevention for military families and suggest areas for future research.
William R. Beardslee.
Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, July 2013.
This commentary discusses key themes in four conceptually related papers in this special issue on military families. Individually, the papers highlight the importance of the experiences of young children, the vital role of family narratives, the need for effective communication in families with a combat-injured member, and the need to understand the many dimensions of grieving and loss. Taken together, they compellingly make the case for family-centered care approaches and interventions.
They also emphasize the need for families to understand and make meaning together of the experiences they have undergone and that this is a long-term, ongoing, dynamic, and interactive process.
Schumm, Jeremiah A., Walter, Kristen H., & Chard, Kathleen M..
Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, Jul 29 , 2013, No Pagination Specified.
Despite demonstrated effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapies for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there is limited research on the trajectory of PTSD symptom change during the course of these therapies. In addition, existent findings are mixed, making it difficult to know how individuals’ PTSD symptoms will change from week to week during psychotherapy.
The study presented here uses general growth mixture modeling (GGMM) to test the hypothesis that multiple latent classes will explain individual differences in PTSD symptom change during the course of cognitive processing therapy (CPT). Read more . . .
Kelly, ML & Runnals, J., et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, available online 13 August 2013
Background: The present study examined lifespan and combat-related trauma exposure as predictors of alcohol use among male and female veterans. Posttraumatic stress and depressive symptoms were examined as mediators of the effects of trauma exposure on alcohol use. Read more . . .
Paley B, Lester P, & Mogil C..
Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev. 2013 Jun 13. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:23760926[PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
The scope of sustained military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan has placed great demands on the Armed Forces of the United States, and accordingly, military families have been faced with deployments in more rapid succession than ever before. When military parents fulfill occupational duties during wartime, military children and families face multiple challenges, including extended separations, disruptions in family routines, and potentially compromised parenting related to traumatic exposure and subsequent mental health problems. Such challenges can begin to exert a significant toll on the well-being of both individuals and relationships (e.g., marital, parent-child) within military families.
In order to respond more effectively to the needs of military families, it is essential that mental health clinicians and researchers have a better understanding of the challenges faced by military families throughout the entire deployment experience and the ways in which these challenges may have a cumulative impact over multiple deployments. Moreover, the mental health field must become better prepared to support service members and families across a rapidly evolving landscape of military operations around the world, including those who are making the transition from active duty to Veteran status and navigating a return to civilian life and those families in which parents will continue to actively serve and deploy in combat zones.
In this article, we utilize family systems and ecological perspectives to advance our understanding of how military families negotiate repeated deployment experiences and how such experiences impact the well-being and adjustment of families at the individual, dyadic, and whole family level.
Kevin J. Heltemes, Mary C. Clouser, & Andrew J. MacGregor.
Addictive Behaviors, Available online 18 June 2013.
Objective: Service members face difficulties during military deployment potentially resulting in morbidities such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and alcohol misuse. The co-occurrence of alcohol misuse and mental health disorders is termed dual disorder and has been associated with adverse outcomes.
Methods: The study included 812 high-risk (i.e., endorsing combat exposure with documented combat injury) male U.S. veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom, injured between October 2004 and November 2007, identified from the Expeditionary Medical Encounter Database.
Results: PTSD and depression symptoms were significant correlates of alcohol misuse. Veterans with dual disorder symptoms reported a significantly higher mean number of health complaints on the Post-Deployment Health Reassessment compared with those endorsing only mental health symptoms.
Conclusions: These results highlight how mental health disorders among injured service members increases the odds of problem drinking and those with dual disorder have elevated health complaints.
Balderrama-Durbin, Christina; Snyder, Douglas K, et al..
Journal of Family Psychology, Jun 17 , 2013.
Although previous research has shown a negative relation between partner support and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity among military service members following deployment, the mediating mechanisms of this effect remain poorly understood. This study examined willingness to disclose deployment- and combat-related experiences as a mediating mechanism underlying the linkage between intimate partner support and PTSD symptom severity in a sample of 76 U.S. Air Force service members deployed to Iraq in a year-long, high-risk mission.
Airmen's reports of overall social support, and partner support specifically, significantly predicted concurrent postdeployment PTSD symptom severity. Subsequent mediation analyses demonstrated that level of disclosure of deployment- and combat-related experiences by service members to their intimate partners accounted for a significant portion of the relation between partner support and postdeployment PTSD symptom severity. The level of Airmen's disclosure was also inversely related to levels of relationship distress. Implications of these findings for prevention and intervention strategies and for further research are discussed.
Shira Maguen, & Kristine Burkman.
Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, Available online 9 June 2013.
Despite its prevalence, killing in war is an experience that may not fit neatly into existing models of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its treatment. The context in which killing occurred may be complex. Furthermore, while killing may certainly be fear based, an individual may have also killed in response to losing someone close and experiencing sadness and anger, as opposed to fear.
While evidence-based treatments for PTSD may be a good starting point for killing-related trauma, we argue that existing treatments need to be expanded. Complex killing-related cognitions that may not be anticipated or identified, moral injury, self-forgiveness, and loss are all important issues that arise that may need to be addressed in greater detail.
Consequently, we have developed a 6- to 8-session individual treatment module for those impacted by killing in war, expressly designed for use with existing evidence-based treatments for PTSD, currently being validated for use in clinical practice. We see this module as supplementary, rather than as a replacement, building on the skills that veterans have already learned within these treatments. By expanding the types of treatments we offer those who have killed in war, we can ensure that we are providing veterans with comprehensive treatment that takes the complexities of war and its aftermath into account.
Rebecca K. Blais, & Keith D. Renshaw.
Journal of Traumatic Stress, Vol 26 Issue 1.
Many U.S. Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans return from deployment with posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms, but few veterans seek psychological help. Research on barriers to care is growing, but the link between stigma and help-seeking is understudied.
The present study examined anticipated enacted stigma from military and nonmilitary sources, self-stigma, PTS, perceived likelihood of deploying again, marital status, and history of mental health care engagement as correlates of help-seeking intentions from a mental health professional or medical doctor/advance practice registered nurse (MD/APRN) in a sample of 165 combat veterans. Read more . . .
Although stigma associated with serious mental illness, substance abuse disorders, and depression has been studied very little is known about stigma associated with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This study explored stigma related to PTSD among treatment-seeking Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) combat veterans. Read more . . .
Horesh D; Solomon Z; & Ein-Dor T.
Journal of Community Psychology, Volume 41, Number 5, July 2013, pp. 532-548, Article first published online: 10 JUN 2013.
Delayed-onset posttraumatic stress disorder (DPTSD) has been under medico-legal debate for years. Previous studies examining the prevalence and underlying mechanisms of DPTSD have yielded inconclusive findings. This study examined the role of social resources and warzone exposure in DPTSD. Read more . . .
According to recent census reports, nearly a million veterans have a same-sex partner, yet little is known about them or their use of Veterans Health Care Administration (VHA) services. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) veterans recruited from the community (N = 356) completed an on-line survey to assess their rates of VHA utilization and whether they experience specific barriers to accessing VHA services. Read more . . .
Plagge JM, Lu MW, Lovejoy TI, Karl AI, & Dobscha SK..
Pain Med. 2013 Jun 7. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:23746043[PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
OBJECTIVE: We explore preliminary clinical effectiveness and feasibility of an intervention utilizing collaborative care components and behavioral activation (BA) to treat comorbid chronic pain and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Read more . . .
Lehavot K, Der-Martirosian C, Simpson TL, Sadler AG, & Washington DL..
Psychol Serv. 2013 May;10(2):203-12. PMID:23730964[PubMed - in process]
As the number of women veterans continues to rise, an issue of concern is whether those with mental health symptoms experience disproportionate barriers to care. The purpose of this study was to examine unmet medical needs and barriers to health care among women veterans who screened positive for lifetime posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), current depressive symptoms, both or neither. Read more . . .
Barrera TL, Graham DP, Dunn NJ, & Teng EJ..
Psychol Serv. 2013 May;10(2):168-76. PMID:23730962[PubMed - in process]
The current study examined the role of predeployment sexual and physical abuse, combat exposure, and postdeployment social support in predicting panic disorder and PTSD diagnoses in a large sample of returning veterans. A chart review was conducted for 1740 OEF/OIF veterans who received mental health screenings at a large VA hospital between May 24, 2004 and March 26, 2008. Assessments included psychosocial evaluations conducted by psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers in addition to self-report measures.
Results suggested that the prevalence of panic disorder (6.1%) and PTSD (28.7%) are elevated among OEF/OIF veterans. Veterans reporting higher levels of combat experience were likely to be diagnosed with PTSD (odds ration [OR], 1.17; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.10-1.25; p < .001) or comorbid panic disorder and PTSD (OR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.04-1.33; p < .001). Veterans endorsing predeployment sexual abuse were likely to be diagnosed with comorbid panic disorder and PTSD (OR, 3.05; 95% CI, 1.15-8.08; p < .05), as were veterans endorsing predeployment physical abuse (OR, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.22-1.00; p < .05). Panic disorder was also found to be associated with greater risk for suicide attempts than PTSD (?2 = 16.38, p = .001).
These findings indicate a high prevalence of panic disorder among returning veterans and highlight the importance for clinicians to assess returning veterans routinely for panic disorder in addition to PTSD.
Although current research recognizes robust interdependence among family members, it is not yet evident that such principles have fully integrated into existing systems of care for military and veteran families. Such gaps can create disadvantages in delivering effective support, prevention, and treatment, while including families may yield significant advantages.
This article highlights theoretical frameworks and empirical evidence that illustrate the relevance of systemic approaches to supporting service members, veterans, and their families. We discuss examples of family-centered approaches already in place and identify gaps in existing systems of care.
Dohrenwend, Bruce P.; Yager, Thomas J.; Wall, Melanie M.; & Adams, Ben G.
Clinical Psychological Science February 15, 2013.
The diagnosis posttraumatic stress disorder was introduced in 1980 amid debate about the psychiatric toll of the Vietnam War. There is controversy, however, about its central assumption that potentially traumatic stressors are more important than personal vulnerability in causing the disorder.
We tested this assumption with data from a rigorously diagnosed male subsample (n = 260) from the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study. Combat exposure, prewar vulnerability, and involvement in harming civilians or prisoners were examined, with only combat exposure proving necessary for disorder onset.
Although none of the three factors proved sufficient, estimated onset reached 97% for veterans high on all three, with harm to civilians or prisoners showing the largest independent contribution. Severity of combat exposure proved more important than prewar vulnerability in onset; prewar vulnerability was at least as important in long-term persistence. Implications for the primacy of the stressor assumption, further research, and policy are discussed.
Schuster-Wachen Jennifer, Shipherd Jillian C., & Suvak Michael.
Journal of Traumatic Stress, Early View.
The mediating role of posttraumatic stress symptomatology (PSS) on the association between warzone exposure and physical health symptoms in 7 bodily systems (cardiovascular, dermatological, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, musculoskeletal, neurological, and pulmonary) was examined. We also examined if mediation effects varied as a function of sex.
A sample of 317 U.S. Gulf war veterans was assessed for warzone exposure, PSS, and physical health symptoms 10 years after deployment.
PSS was significantly associated with postdeployment physical health in all symptom categories when accounting for predeployment health (with effect sizes ranging from a 1.27-1.64 increase in the likelihood of postdeployment physical health symptoms with a 1 standard deviation increase in the PSS symptoms). PSS severity mediated the relationship between warzone exposure and postdeployment symptoms in all physical health domains (with percent mediation ranging 44%-75%). A significant Warzone Exposure × PSS interaction emerged for 5 outcomes such that the effect of PSS on physical health was stronger for veterans reporting lower warzone exposure. No significant interactions with sex emerged.
These findings suggest the important influence of PSS on physical health symptoms for both men and women.
Rabinaka, Christine A. ; Holmanb, Alexis; Angstad, Mike; et al.
Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, Available online 17 May 2013.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by sustained anxiety, hypervigilance for potential threat, and hyperarousal. These symptoms may enhance self-perception of one’s actions, particularly the detection of errors, which may threaten safety.
The error-related negativity (ERN) is an electrocortical response to the commission of errors, and previous studies have shown that other anxiety disorders associated with exaggerated anxiety and enhanced action monitoring exhibit an enhanced ERN. However, little is known about how traumatic experience and PTSD would affect the ERN.
To address this gap, we measured the ERN in returning Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) veterans with combat-related PTSD (PTSD group), combat-exposed OEF/OIF veterans without PTSD [combat-exposed control (CEC) group], and non-traumatized healthy participants [healthy control (HC) group]. Event-related potential and behavioral measures were recorded while 16 PTSD patients, 18 CEC, and 16 HC participants completed an arrow version of the flanker task.
No difference in the magnitude of the ERN was observed between the PTSD and HC groups; however, in comparison with the PTSD and HC groups, the CEC group displayed a blunted ERN response. These findings suggest that (1) combat trauma itself does not affect the ERN response; (2) PTSD is not associated with an abnormal ERN response; and (3) an attenuated ERN in those previously exposed to combat trauma but who have not developed PTSD may reflect resilience to the disorder, less motivation to do the task, or a decrease in the significance or meaningfulness of 'errors,' which could be related to combat experience.
Sripada Rebecca K., Rauch Sheila A.M., Peter W. Tuerk, et al.
Journal of Traumatic Stress, Early View.
A proportion of U.S. veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have experienced mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), which is associated with increased risk for developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Prolonged Exposure (PE) has proven effectiveness in the treatment of PTSD; however, some clinicians have reservations about using PE with individuals with a history of mTBI.
We examined the impact of PE for veterans with PTSD and with or without a history of mTBI in a naturalistic sample of 51 veterans who received PE at a Veterans Health Administration PTSD clinic. We also analyzed previously collected data from a controlled trial of 22 veterans randomly assigned to PE or present centered therapy.
For both sets of data, we found that PE reduced symptom levels and we also did not detect an effect for mTBI, suggesting that PE may be helpful for individuals with PTSD and a history of mTBI.
Ragsdalea,Katie A.; Neera, Sandra M; Beidel, Deborah C.; et al.
Journal of Anxiety Disorders, Available online 25 April 2013.
Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) are presenting with high rates of co-occurring posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). The purpose of this study was to compare the clinical presentations of combat-veterans with PTSD and TBI (N = 40) to those with PTSD only (N = 56).
Results suggest that the groups present two distinct clinical profiles, with the PTSD + TBI group endorsing significantly higher PTSD scores, higher overall anxiety, and more functional limitations. The higher PTSD scores found for the PTSD + TBI group appeared to be due to higher symptom intensity, but not higher frequency, across PTSD clusters and symptoms. Groups did not differ on additional psychopathology or self-report of PTSD symptoms or executive functioning.
Further analysis indicated PTSD severity, and not TBI, was responsible for group differences, suggesting that treatments implicated for PTSD would likely be effective for this population.
Sullivan, Connor P. & Elbogen, Eric B.
Law and Human Behavior, May 6 , 2013, No Pagination Specified.
As a diagnosis, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been associated with violence committed by veterans in many studies; however, a potential link to specific PTSD symptoms has received relatively less attention. This paper examines the relationship between PTSD symptoms and different types of violent behavior in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Read more . . .
Melissa E. Milanaka, Daniel F. Gros, et al.
Psychiatry Research, Available online 7 May 2013.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a highly prevalent distressing condition for individuals in both community and community primary care settings. However, despite the high prevalence of GAD identified in epidemiological studies, little is known about GAD and its related symptoms and impairments in veteran populations.
The present study investigated the prevalence, comorbidity, physical and mental health impairment, and healthcare utilization of veteran participants with GAD, as well as comparing symptoms of GAD and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Veterans (N=884) participated in a cross-sectional investigation in primary care clinics in four Veteran Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs) and completed diagnostic interviews and self-report questionnaires; a chart review was conducted to assess their VAMC healthcare utilization.
A large number of participants (12%) met diagnostic criteria for GAD, reporting significantly worse emotional health, pain, and general health, in addition to increased mental healthcare utilization and antidepressant medications. In addition, GAD was found in 40% of participants with PTSD, resulting in more severe symptoms and impairment than in patients with GAD alone. These findings provide evidence of high prevalence and severe impairment associated with GAD in veterans and highlight the need for improved recognition, assessment, and treatments for GAD.
Matthew Chinman, Rebecca S. Oberman, Barbara H. Hanusa, Amy N. Cohen, Michelle P. Salyers, Elizabeth W. Twamley, & Alexander S. Young.
Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research May 2013.
Use of peer specialists (PSs)-individuals with serious mental illness who use their experiences to help others with serious mental illness-is increasing. However, their impact on patient outcomes has not been demonstrated definitively.
This cluster randomized, controlled trial within the Veterans Health Administration compared patients served by three intensive case management teams that each deployed two PSs for 1 year, to the patients of three similar teams without PSs (Usual Care). All patients (PS group = 149, Usual Care = 133) had substantial psychiatric inpatient histories and a primary Axis 1 psychiatric disorder. Before and after the year PSs worked, patients were surveyed on their recovery, quality of life, activation (health self-management efficacy), interpersonal relations, and symptoms.
Patients in the PS group improved significantly more (z = 2.00, df = 1, p = 0.05) than those receiving Usual Care on activation. There were no other significant differences. PSs helped patients become more active in treatment, which can promote recovery.
Jason R. Soble, Lisa B. Spanierman & Julie Fitzgerald Smith.
Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, Published online15 May 2013
This study examined the neuropsychological performance of 125 outpatient Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and nonacute mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) (n = 66) and PTSD (n = 59) across multiple cognitive domains to determine whether mild TBI results in greater impairment among those with PTSD.
Profile analyses revealed that veterans with PTSD and mild TBI did not differ significantly from those with just PTSD across domains, suggesting that comorbid mild TBI does not result in an additive effect. A norms-based comparison also revealed that neither group demonstrated impaired performance on any of the objective neuropsychological measures examined. However, both groups endorsed moderately elevated symptoms of depression and anxiety, indicating that comorbid psychopathology may contribute to subjective cognitive complaints.
Gabriel Tan, Devika Srivastava, Donna Smith , et al..
Pain Medicine, Early View
Access to care has become a priority for the Veterans Administration (VA) health care system as a significant number of veterans enrolled in the VA health care system reside in rural areas. The feasibility and effects of a novel clinical intervention that combined group therapy and biofeedback training was evaluated on women veterans living in rural areas. Read more . . .
Breanna K. Wright, Helen L. Kelsall, Malcolm R. Sim, David M. Clarke, & Mark C. Creamer.
Journal of Traumatic Stress, Early View.
Pre-trauma factors of psychiatric history and neuroticism have been important in highlighting vulnerability to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), whereas posttrauma support mechanisms have been associated with positive health and well-being outcomes, particularly in veterans. The relationship between these factors and PTSD has not been the subject of a systematic review in veterans. Read more . . .
Breyer BN, Cohen BE, Bertenthal D, Rosen RC, Neylan TC, & Seal KH.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Early View.
Introduction: Mental health disorders are prevalent in the United States, Iraq, and Afghanistan war veterans. Mental illness, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with or without psychiatric medications, can increase the risk for male sexual dysfunction, threatening quality of life.
Aims: We sought to determine the prevalence and correlates of sexual dysfunction among male Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Methods We performed a retrospective cohort study of 405,275 male Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who were new users of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare from October 7, 2001 to September 30, 2009 and had 2-year follow-up. Read more . . .
Alschuler KN, & Otis JD. European Journal of Pain (EUR J PAIN), 2013 Feb; 17 (2): 245-54.
BACKGROUND: Pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are two of the most common health complaints among US veterans. Studies suggest that the co-morbidity of these disorders exacerbates veterans' experiences of chronic pain. Although a limited number of papers have reviewed reasons for this exacerbation, no studies have explored the potential contribution of significant others' responses to veterans' experience of pain in the context of PTSD symptomatology. The purpose of this study was to explore whether significant others' responses to chronic pain differed for veterans with and without clinical levels of PTSD symptoms. It was hypothesized that veterans who presented with higher levels of PTSD symptomatology would report higher levels of 'punishing' responses to their pain from significant others. Read more . . .
Skye Ochsner Margolies, Bruce Rybarczyk, Scott R. Vrana, David J. Leszczyszyn, & John Lynch.
Journal of Clinical Psychology, 29 APR 2013
Sleep disturbances are a core and salient feature of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Pilot studies have indicated that combined cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) and imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT) for nightmares improves sleep as well as PTSD symptoms. Read more . . .
Brown AD, Root JC, Romano TA, Chang LJ, Bryant RA, & Hirst W.
J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2013 Mar;44(1):129-34 PMID: 22200095 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
BACKGROUND: Studies show that individuals with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) tend to recall autobiographical memories with decreased episodic specificity. A growing body of research has demonstrated that the mechanisms involved in recalling autobiographical memories overlap considerably with those involved in imagining the future. Although shared autobiographical deficits in remembering the past and imagining the future have been observed in other clinical populations, this has yet to be examined in PTSD. This study examined whether, compared to combat trauma-exposed individuals without PTSD, those with combat-related PTSD would be more likely to generate overgeneralized autobiographical memories and imagined future events. Read more . . .
Church D, Hawk C, Brooks AJ, Toukolehto O, Wren M, Dinter I, & Stein P.
J Nerv Ment Dis. 2013 Feb;201(2):153-60. PMID:23364126[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
This study examined the effect of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), a brief exposure therapy combining cognitive and somatic elements, on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psychological distress symptoms in veterans receiving mental health services. Veterans meeting the clinical criteria for PTSD were randomized to EFT (n = 30) or standard of care wait list (SOC/WL; n = 29).
The EFT intervention consisted of 6-hour-long EFT coaching sessions concurrent with standard care. The SOC/WL and EFT groups were compared before and after the intervention (at 1 month for the SOC/WL group and after six sessions for the EFT group). The EFT subjects had significantly reduced psychological distress (p < 0.0012) and PTSD symptom levels (p < 0.0001) after the test. In addition, 90% of the EFT group no longer met PTSD clinical criteria, compared with 4% in the SOC/WL group. After the wait period, the SOC/WL subjects received EFT. In a within-subjects longitudinal analysis, 60% no longer met the PTSD clinical criteria after three sessions. This increased to 86% after six sessions for the 49 subjects who ultimately received EFT and remained at 86% at 3 months and at 80% at 6 months.
The results are consistent with that of other published reports showing EFT's efficacy in treating PTSD and comorbid symptoms and its long-term effects.
Castillo DT, C' de Baca J, Qualls C, & Bornovalova MA.. Mil Med. 2012 Dec;177(12):1486-91. PMID:23397693[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to examine the application of a group exposure therapy model, the content of which consisted solely of repeated imaginal exposure during sessions, in a clinical sample of female veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Establishing group delivery of exposure therapy will expand options, increase efficiency, and introduce group curative factors. Read more . . .
Aggression among combat veterans is of great concern. Although some studies have found an association between combat exposure and aggressive behavior following deployment, others conclude that aggression is more strongly associated with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and that alcohol misuse may influence this association. Many of these studies have assessed aggression as a single construct, whereas the current study explored both nonphysical aggression only and physical aggression in a sample of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans (N = 337; 91% male).
We found that alcohol problems interacted with PTSD symptom severity to predict nonphysical aggression only. At low levels of PTSD symptoms, veterans with alcohol problems were more likely to perpetrate nonphysical aggression only, as compared with no aggression, than veterans without an alcohol problem. There was no difference in the likelihood of nonphysical aggression only between those with and without alcohol problems at high levels of PTSD symptoms. The likelihood of nonphysical aggression only, as compared with no aggression, was also greater among younger veterans. Greater combat exposure and PTSD symptom severity were associated with an increased likelihood of perpetrating physical aggression, as compared with no aggression. Ethnic minority status and younger age were also associated with physical aggression, as compared with no aggression.
Findings suggest that a more detailed assessment of veterans' aggressive behavior, as well as their alcohol problems and PTSD symptoms, by researchers and clinicians is needed in order to determine how best to intervene.
Fischer, Ellen P.; Sherman, Michelle D.; Han, Xiaotong; & Owen Jr., Richard R..
Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Mar 18 , 2013, No Pagination Specified.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is prevalent among users of the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system. Effective approaches to involving family in care for PTSD are critical because family functioning both affects and is affected by treatment outcomes. Although multifamily group treatment is an evidence-based practice for schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses, no data have been published on its effectiveness for those living with PTSD and their family members.
This study examined the impact of participation in REACH (Reaching out to Educate and Assist Caring, Healthy Families), an adaptation of the multifamily group psychoeducation program tailored for delivery to veterans with PTSD and their family members. Read more . . .
Wisco BE, Pineles SL, Shipherd JC, & Marx BP.
Cogn Emot. 2013 Mar 21; PMID: 23517445 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Attentional interference by threat is associated with PTSD, but the mechanisms of this relationship remain unclear. Attentional interference might be related to increased use of maladaptive thought control strategies, such as suppressing unwanted thoughts (thought suppression) or replacing threatening thoughts with everyday concerns (worry), which increase PTSD risk. Conversely, attentional interference might be associated with reduced use of adaptive strategies, such as talking about threatening thoughts (social control), which decrease PTSD risk.
This study tested if thought control strategies mediate the relationship between attentional interference and PTSD. Sixty-one male Vietnam-era veterans completed measures of PTSD symptoms and thought control strategies. Participants also completed a Visual Search Task measuring attentional interference, which required participants to identify a target letter string among a group of threat or neutral words.
Attentional interference by threat was related to PTSD symptoms, and mediation analyses revealed significant indirect effects of attentional interference through thought suppression and worry. Attentional interference was related to re-experiencing and avoidance, but not hyperarousal, symptom clusters. Thought suppression was a unique mediator for re-experiencing, whereas thought suppression and worry both mediated the relationship with avoidance.
These results offer evidence for maladaptive thought control strategies as a mechanism linking attentional biases for threat to PTSD.
Jakupcak, Matthew; Blais, Rebecca K.; Grossbard, Joel; Garcia, Hector; & Okiishi, John.
Psychology of Men & Masculinity, Feb 18 , 2013
The association between endorsement of emotional “toughness” (i.e., extreme self-reliance and the suppression of outward displays of emotional distress) and likelihood for screening positive for mental health conditions was examined in a male sample of 198 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans presenting for postdeployment Veteran Affairs health care.
After accounting for relevant covariates, veterans endorsing higher levels of emotional toughness were more likely to screen positive for posttraumatic stress disorder and depression. There was also a nonsignificant trend (p = .08) associated with a positive relationship between toughness and likelihood of self-reported alcohol abuse.
Results are discussed in terms of identifying and addressing toughness norms among returning veterans to promote effective use of mental health services.
J Spec Oper Med. 2013;13(1):49-54 PMID: 23526322 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
This large case series reports the results of using a removable soft intraoral stabilization splint in the treatment of chronic headaches and chronic nightmares in 60 military post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients of the Vietnam, Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom conflicts.
Patient treatment criteria included meeting all of the following requirements: minimum of three headaches per week; minimum of three nightmares per week; minimum of three sleep interruptions per week; minimum of three intraoral or extraoral (craniofacial) trigger points; and previous PTSD diagnosis by the U.S. Army or Veterans Administration with duration of this disorder for a minimum of three years.
Significant reduction (60%?90%) in headache and nightmare severity, intensity, and duration was obtained in 75% of the 44 patients who completed the three-month follow-up.
J Anxiety Disord. 2013 Mar 4;27(2):240-251 PMID: 23523947 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
This study examined the influence of trauma history and PTSD symptoms on the behavior of veterans and their intimate partners (287 couples; N=574) observed during conflict discussions and coded using the Rapid Marital Interaction Coding System (Heyman, 2004).
Dyadic structural equation modeling analyses showed that PTSD was associated with more frequent displays of hostility and psychological abuse and fewer expressions of acceptance and humor in both veterans and their partners.
Findings provide new insight into the social and emotional deficits associated with PTSD and emphasize the importance of addressing the trauma histories and PTSD of both partners when treating veteran couples with relationship disturbance.
Lewis VJ, Dell L, & Matthews LR.
Rehabil Med. 2013 Mar 28;45(4):403-9 PMID: 23546308 [PubMed - in process]
Objective: The increasing number of veterans with complex health conditions accessing rehabilitation leads to the need for an outcome measure that identifies success in areas beyond return to work. The current study was designed to assess the feasibility of Goal Attainment Scaling as a routine measure of outcomes of rehabilitation. Read more . . .
King MW, Street AE, Gradus JL, Vogt DS, & Resick PA.
J Trauma Stress. 2013 Mar 22; PMID: 23526678 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher
Establishing whether men and women tend to express different symptoms of posttraumatic stress in reaction to trauma is important for both etiological research and the design of assessment instruments. Use of item response theory (IRT) can reveal how symptom reporting varies by gender and help determine if estimates of symptom severity for men and women are equally reliable.
We analyzed responses to the PTSD Checklist (PCL) from 2,341 U.S. military veterans (51% female) who completed deployments in support of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq (Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom [OEF/OIF]), and tested for differential item functioning by gender with an IRT-based approach.
Among men and women with the same overall posttraumatic stress severity, women tended to report more frequent concentration difficulties and distress from reminders whereas men tended to report more frequent nightmares, emotional numbing, and hypervigilance. These item-level gender differences were small (on average d = 0.05), however, and had little impact on PCL measurement precision or expected total scores. For practical purposes, men's and women's severity estimates had similar reliability.
This provides evidence that men and women veterans demonstrate largely similar profiles of posttraumatic stress symptoms following exposure to military-related stressors, and some theoretical perspectives suggest this may hold in other traumatized populations.
Bush, Nigel E.; Prins, Annabel; Laraway, Sean; O'Brien, Karen; Ruzek, Joséf; & Ciulla, Robert P.
Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, Mar 25 , 2013, No Pagination Specified.
This pilot study employed a nonconcurrent, multiple-baseline single-case design to examine the impact of an online self-management posttraumatic stress (PTS) workshop on self-reported symptoms of PTS, depression, and functional impairment.
Eleven student veterans with PTS first completed between three and five weekly baseline measures. Second, they took part in eight weekly online workshop sessions, each accompanied by symptom assessments. Third, they completed postintervention outcome measures. Read more . . .
Vella, Elizabeth Jane; Milligan, Briana; Bennett, & Jessie Lynn.
Military Medicine, Volume 178, Number 3, March 2013 , pp. 254-260(7)
Purpose: Evaluate the effectiveness of a 2-day, 3-night outdoor recreation intervention involving fly-fishing in reducing the psychological concomitants of stress among 74 veterans (M = 47.27, SD = 14.55 years) with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Methods: Participants completed repeated assessments of attentiveness, mood, depression, anxiety, and somatic stress across 3 time periods, corresponding to 2 weeks before the trip (baseline), the last day of the trip, and a 6-week follow-up. Assessments of perceptual stress, PTSD symptoms, and sleep quality were also administered during the baseline and follow-up periods.
Results: Acute effects were observed for improvements in attentiveness and positive mood states, coupled with significant and sustained reductions in negative mood states, anxiety, depression, and somatic symptoms of stress. Comparisons between the baseline and follow-up periods revealed significant improvements in sleep quality and reductions in perceptual stress and PTSD symptoms.
Conclusions: The current findings suggest that combat veterans with PTSD may benefit from participation in group-based outdoor recreation as a means to improve psychosocial well-being.
James LM, Van Kampen E, Miller RD, & Engdahl BE.
Mil Med. 2013 Feb;178(2):159-65 PMID: 23495461 [PubMed - in process]
Military personnel returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan commonly experience mental health problems and efforts are underway to determine risk and protective factors associated with postdeployment mental health concerns.
This study examined the contribution of trait neuroticism, predeployment life events, combat experience, perceptions of threat, and postdeployment social support on mental health symptoms at 6 months, 12 months, and 24 months postdeployment. Two hundred seventy-one veterans completed self-report measures.
Hierarchical regression analyses demonstrated that neuroticism predicted post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms at all 3 time points; perceived threat predicted post-traumatic stress symptoms at time 1 and time 2 and depressive symptoms at time 2. Social support was a strong negative predictor of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms. Alcohol misuse was not significantly predicted by any of the variables.
The present study highlights the role of perceived threat and trait neuroticism on postdeployment mental health symptoms and indicates social support is a robust protective factor. Efforts aimed at increasing sustained postdeployment social support may help defend against significant mental health problems among veterans.
Jennifer Tawa & Susan Murphy.
Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, Early View.
Purpose Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health disorder. The current first-line psychopharmacologic treatment for PTSD is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Recently, the efficacy of SSRIs has been challenged in favor of propranolol use.
This article reviews the origins of PTSD, its impact within the veteran population, psychopharmacological treatment of PTSD, and current literature on the use of propranolol for PTSD treatment. Read more . . .
Boden, M. Babson, K. et al.
The American Journal on Addictions. 6 MAR 2013
The present study is the first to explore links between PTSD and cannabis use characteristics immediately prior to a cannabis quit attempt, including motives, use problems, withdrawal, and craving.
Methods: Measures of PTSD diagnosis, symptom severity, and cannabis use characteristics were administered to a sample of cannabis dependent military veterans (n = 94). Hypotheses were tested with a series of analyses of variance and covariance and hierarchical multiple regressions with Bonferroni corrections. Analyses were conducted with and without adjusting for variance shared with substance use (cannabis, alcohol, tobacco) in the previous 90 days, and co-occurring mood, anxiety, and substance use diagnoses.
Results and Conclusions: Compared to participants without PTSD, participants with PTSD reported significantly increased: (a) use of cannabis to cope, (b) severity of cannabis withdrawal, and (c) experiences of craving related to compulsivity, emotionality, and anticipation, with findings regarding coping and craving remaining significant after adjusting for covariates. Among the total sample, PTSD symptom severity was positively associated with (a) use of cannabis to cope, (b) cannabis use problems, (c) severity of cannabis withdrawal, and (d) experiences of craving related to compulsivity and emotionality, with findings regarding withdrawal and emotion-related craving remaining significant after adjusting for covariates.
Thus, links between PTSD and using cannabis to cope, severity of cannabis withdrawal, and especially craving appear robust across measures of PTSD and analytical method.
van Hoorn LA, Jones N, Busuttil W, Fear NT, Wessely S, Hunt E, & Greenberg N.
Occup Med (Lond). 2013 Mar 11; 23479566 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Background: Recently, proposals have been made to improve mental health care for UK military veterans. Combat Stress (CS), a veteran's charity, has provided mental health services for veterans since 1919. Since 2003, service users have included veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts; however, their pattern of help-seeking has not been evaluated.
Aims: To describe the characteristics of the veteran population of the recent Iraq or Afghanistan conflicts who sought help from CS between 2003 and May 2011.
Methods: CS Iraq and Afghanistan veteran clinical and welfare records were evaluated.ResultsNine hundred and eighty-eight records were evaluated. The median time for veterans of recent conflicts to seek help from CS since discharge from military service was ~2 years, considerably shorter than the mean time of 14 years previously estimated by CS. Approximately, three-quarters of the veterans receiving a full clinical assessment (n = 114), received a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (n = 87). Approximately half of the clinically assessed veterans self-referred to CS (51%); their most frequent diagnosis was PTSD.
Conclusions: Veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are presenting to Combat Stress sooner, and at a younger age, than veterans of previous conflicts and operations.
Elbogen EB, Wagner HR, Johnson SC, Kinneer P, Kang H, Vasterling JJ, Timko C, & Beckham JC.
Psychiatr Serv. 2013 Feb 1;64(2):134-41 PMID: 23475498 [PubMed - in process]
OBJECTIVE: This study analyzed data from a national survey of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to improve understanding of mental health services use and perceived barriers.
METHODS: The National Post-Deployment Adjustment Survey randomly sampled post-9/11 veterans separated from active duty or in the Reserves or National Guard. The corrected response rate was 56% (N=1,388). Read more . . .
Suzannah K. Creecha, & Brian Borsari.
Addictive Behaviors. Available online 26 February 2013.
Background: Little is known regarding alcohol use and its correlates in women Veterans. An understanding of these variables is of utility to providers in primary care at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals, who are among the first to identify and intervene for problem drinking.
Objective: The objective of this study was to describe and explore the associations between posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, experience of military sexual trauma (MST), expectancies for alcohol use, and coping skills in predicting drinking behavior. Read more . . .
Stecker T, Shiner B, Watts BV, Jones M, & Conner KR.
Psychiatr Serv. 2013 Mar 1;64(3):280-3 PMID: 23450385 [PubMed - in process]
OBJECTIVES: Barriers associated with the decision not to seek treatment for symptoms of combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were examined.
METHODS: Participants were 143 military men and women who served in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) and who screened positive for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as assessed by the PTSD Checklist-Military Version, and who had not sought treatment for PTSD. During a cognitive-behavioral telephone intervention, participants were asked about their beliefs concerning seeking PTSD treatment.
RESULTS: Four categories of beliefs were associated with the decision to seek treatment, including concerns about treatment (40%), emotional readiness for treatment (35%), stigma (16%), and logistical issues (8%).
CONCLUSIONS: This work suggests areas for intervention efforts to minimize barriers to treatment for PTSD for OEF/OIF veterans.
April A. Gerlock, Jackie Grimesey, & George Sayre.
Journal of Marital and Family Therapy.
The protracted conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan and an all-volunteer military has resulted in multiple war zone deployments for many service members. While quick redeployment turnaround has left little time for readjustment for either the service member or family, dealing with the long-term sequelae of combat exposure often leaves families and intimate partners ill-prepared for years after deployments.
Using a modified grounded theory approach, digitally recorded couple interviews of 23 couples were purposefully selected from a larger sample of 441 couples to better understand the impact of war zone deployment on the couple. The veteran sample was recruited from a randomly selected cohort of men in treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Overall, it was found when veterans experiencing deployment-related PTSD reenter or start new intimate relationships they may bring with them a unique cluster of interrelated issues which include PTSD symptoms, physical impairment, high rates of alcohol and/or drug abuse, and psychological and physical aggression. These factors contributed to a dynamic of exacerbating conflict. How these couples approached relationship qualities of mutuality, balanced locus of control and weakness tolerance across six axes of caregiving, disability, responsibility, trauma, communication, and community impacted the couple's capacity to communicate and resolve conflict. This dyadic relationship model is used to help inform implications for clinical practice.
Thompson J, Hopman W, Sweet J, VanTil L, MacLean MB, VanDenKerkhof E, Sudom K, Poirier A, & Pedlar D.
2013;104(1):e15-e21 Not yet in PubMed
OBJECTIVES: Describe health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of former Canadian Forces (CF) men and women in uniform (Veterans) after transition to civilian life, and compare to age- and sex-adjusted Canadian norms. Read more . . .
Jones N, Jones M, Fear NT, Fertout M, Wessely S, & Greenberg N.
Occup Environ Med. 2013 Feb 26; PMID: 23444279 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
OBJECTIVE: Third Location Decompression (TLD) is an activity undertaken by UK Armed Forces (UK AF) personnel at the end of an operational deployment which aims to smooth the transition between operations and returning home. We assessed whether TLD impacted upon both mental health and postdeployment readjustment. Read more . . .
Washington DL, Davis TD, Der-Martirosian C, & Yano EM.
J Gen Intern Med. 2013 Feb 23; PMID: 23435765 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
BACKGROUND: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common in women veterans (WVs), and associated with significant co-morbidity. Effective treatment is available; however, PTSD is often unrecognized.
OBJECTIVES: Identify PTSD prevalence and mental healthcare (MHC) use in a representative national WV sample. Read more . . .
Outcalt SD, Yu Z, Hoen HM, Pennington TM, & Krebs EE.
Pain Med. 2013 Feb 22; PMID: 23432958 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
OBJECTIVE: To examine health care utilization among veterans with both chronic pain and posttraumatic stress symptoms.
METHODS: Retrospective cohort study of 40,716 veterans in a VA regional network from January 1, 2002 to January 1, 2007. Veterans were categorized into pain-only, posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms (PTSD)-only, and pain plus PTSD (pain+PTSD) comparison groups. Negative binomial models were used to compare adjusted rates of primary care, mental health, and specialty pain service use, as well as opioids, benzodiazepines, nonopioid analgesics, and antidepressant prescriptions. Rates of clinic visits were calculated by days per year, and rates of medication use were calculated by prescription months per year. Participants were followed for a mean duration of 47 months. Read more . . .
Davis JJ, Walter KH, Chard KM, Parkinson RB, & Houston WS.
Rehabil Psychol. 2013 Feb;58(1):36-42 PMID: 23437998 [PubMed - in process]
Objective: This retrospective study examined treatment adherence in Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) for combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) with and without history of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Read more . . .
Alao A, Selvarajah J, & Razi S.
Int J Psychiatry Med. 2012;44(2):165-9 PMID: 23413663 [PubMed - in process]
OBJECTIVE: To describe the successful treatment of PTSD associated nightmares in two patients with PTSD.
CASE SUMMARIES: The report of the successful use of clonidine to treat PTSD associated nightmares among two Veterans following combat exposure.
DISCUSSION: Clonidine, a centrally acting alpha-agonist agent used to treat hypertension, stimulates alpha-adrenoreceptors in the brain stem. This action results in reduced sympathetic outflow from the central nervous system. We hypothesize that this central mechanism of action is why clonidine may be more effective in treating nightmares among patients with PTSD when compared with other agents.
CONCLUSION: Clonidine should be considered as an alternative in the treatment of nightmares among patients with PTSD.
van Liempt S, van Zuiden M, Westenberg H, Super A, & Vermetten E.
Depress Anxiety. 2013 Feb 6; PMID: 23389990 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
BACKGROUND: A significant proportion of soldiers return from deployment with symptoms of fatigue, sleep difficulties, and posttraumatic complaints. Disrupted sleep has been proposed as a contributing factor for the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study investigates the impact of impaired sleep and nightmares before deployment on the development of PTSD symptoms. Read more . . .
Morasco BJ, Lovejoy TI, Lu M, Turk DC, Lewis L, & Dobscha SK.
Pain. 2013 Jan 11; PMID: 23398939 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
People with chronic pain and comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) report more severe pain and poorer quality of life than those with chronic pain alone. This study evaluated the extent to which associations between PTSD and chronic pain interference and severity are mediated by pain-related coping strategies and depressive symptoms. Read more . . .
Paulus EJ, Argo TR, & Egge JA.
J Trauma Stress. 2013 Jan 31; PMID: 23371434 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Hyperarousal is a hallmark of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD has been associated with increased blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) in veteran populations. We retrospectively identified male patients consulted to outpatient psychiatry at the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. Patients were divided into PTSD (n = 88) and non-PTSD (n = 98) groups. All PTSD patients and a subset of non-PTSD patients had documented blast exposure during service. The study investigated whether patients with PTSD had higher systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and heart rate (HR) than patients without PTSD. The effect of trauma exposure on BP was also examined.
Mean SBP (133.8 vs. 122.3 mm Hg; p < .001), DBP (87.6 vs. 78.6 mm Hg; p < .001), and HR (78.9 vs. 73.1 bpm; p < .001) were all significantly higher in the PTSD group. Trauma-exposed patients without PTSD had significantly higher BP than nonexposed patients. The prevalence of hypertension (HTN) was 34.1% (diagnosed and undiagnosed) among PTSD patients. Patients with PTSD had higher BP and HR compared to patients without PTSD.
Trauma exposure may increase BP in this population. These findings will increase awareness about the cardiovascular implications of PTSD.
Collin L. Davidson, Kimberly A. Babson PhD, & Marcel O.
Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior.
Suicide has a large public health impact. Although effective interventions exist, the many people at risk for suicide cannot access these interventions. Exercise interventions hold promise in terms of reducing suicide because of their ease of implementation. While exercise reduces depression, and reductions in depressive symptoms are linked to reduced suicidal ideation, no studies have directly linked exercise and suicide risk. The current study examined this association, including potential mediators (i.e., sleep disturbance, posttraumatic stress symptoms, and depression), in a sample of Veterans. SEM analyses revealed that exercise was directly and indirectly associated with suicide risk. Additionally, exercise was associated with fewer depressive symptoms and better sleep patterns, each of which was, in turn, related to lower suicide risk.
Laska KM, Smith TL, Wislocki AP, Minami T, & Wampold BE.
J Couns Psychol. 2013 Jan;60(1):31-41 PMID: 23356465 [PubMed - in process]
Objective: Various factors contribute to the effective implementation of evidence-based treatments (EBTs). In this study, cognitive processing therapy (CPT) was administered in a Veterans Affairs (VA) posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) specialty clinic in which training and supervision were provided following VA implementation guidelines. The aim was to (a) estimate the proportion of variability in outcome attributable to therapists and (b) identify characteristics of those therapists who produced better outcomes. Read more . . .
Lande RG, & Williams LB.
Mil Med. 2013 Jan;178(1):50-4 PMID: 23356119 [PubMed - in process]
The authors' principle objective was determining the prevalence and characteristics of medical malingering in the military. The authors accessed an electronic database used by the Department of Defense to monitor and manage military health care activities worldwide. The authors searched the database from 2006 to 2011 in the Northern Regional Medical Command for all instances where a health care provider, consequent to an outpatient medical visit, diagnosed malingering, factitious disorder with psychological symptoms, or factitious disorder with physical symptoms.
During the time period studied, the Northern Regional Medical Command reported 28,065,568 health care visits. During the same time period, clinicians diagnosed 1,074 individuals with malingering, factitious disorder with predominantly psychological signs and symptoms, or factitious disorder with predominantly physical signs and symptoms. The typical subject diagnosed with one of these disorders was young, male, nonmarried, and enlisted. Although most diagnoses came from a mental health clinic, other medical specialties also contributed to the total tally.
These diagnoses are extremely rare based on the findings from this study of outpatient medical care visits.
Church D, Hawk C, Brooks AJ, Toukolehto O, Wren M, Dinter I, & Stein P.
J Nerv Ment Dis. 2013 Feb;201(2):153-60 PMID: 23364126 [PubMed - in process]
This study examined the effect of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), a brief exposure therapy combining cognitive and somatic elements, on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psychological distress symptoms in veterans receiving mental health services.
Veterans meeting the clinical criteria for PTSD were randomized to EFT (n = 30) or standard of care wait list (SOC/WL; n = 29). The EFT intervention consisted of 6-hour-long EFT coaching sessions concurrent with standard care. The SOC/WL and EFT groups were compared before and after the intervention (at 1 month for the SOC/WL group and after six sessions for the EFT group). The EFT subjects had significantly reduced psychological distress (p < 0.0012) and PTSD symptom levels (p < 0.0001) after the test. In addition, 90% of the EFT group no longer met PTSD clinical criteria, compared with 4% in the SOC/WL group. After the wait period, the SOC/WL subjects received EFT.
In a within-subjects longitudinal analysis, 60% no longer met the PTSD clinical criteria after three sessions. This increased to 86% after six sessions for the 49 subjects who ultimately received EFT and remained at 86% at 3 months and at 80% at 6 months. The results are consistent with that of other published reports showing EFT's efficacy in treating PTSD and comorbid symptoms and its long-term effects.
Brooks E, Novins DK, Thomas D, Jiang L, Nagamoto HT, Dailey N, Bair B, & Shore JH.
Psychiatr Serv. 2012 Sep 1;63(9):862-7 PMID: 22707088 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
OBJECTIVE: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is widespread among veterans, but many veterans with PTSD use few health services. This study examined how individual characteristics influenced use of outpatient visits by veterans with PTSD. Read more . .
Abrams TE, Vaughan-Sarrazin M, Richardson K, Cram P, & Rosenthal GE.
Radiology. 2013 Jan 29; PMID: 23360739 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Purpose: To examine the relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and computed tomography (CT) utilization and to determine whether there were patterns of comorbid illness that could explain the relationship. Read more . . .
Naylor JC, Dolber TR, Strauss JL, Kilts JD, Strauman TJ, Bradford DW, Szabo ST, Youssef NA, Connor KM, Davidson JR, & Marx CE.
Psychiatry Res. 2012 Dec 28; 23276723 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Subthreshold posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with increased risk for suicidality, depression, and functional impairment. We thus conducted a small (N=12) pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) with paroxetine for subthreshold PTSD in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) era veterans.
Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) scores improved by 30.4% in the paroxetine group. Paroxetine may have promise for subthreshold PTSD.
Babson KA, Boden MT, Woodward S, Alvarez J, & Bonn-Miller M.
J Nerv Ment Dis. 2013 Jan;201(1):48-51 PMID: 23274295 [PubMed - in process]
A cardinal feature of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is decreased sleep quality. Anxiety sensitivity (AS) is one factor that has shown early theoretical and empirical promise in better understanding the relation between sleep quality and PTSD outcomes. The current study is the first to test the independent and interactive effects of sleep quality and AS on PTSD symptoms.
Consistent with hypotheses, AS and sleep quality were found to be independent and interactive predictors of PTSD symptom severity in our sample of male military veterans seeking treatment for PTSD. Slope analyses revealed that AS was differentially related to PTSD symptom severity as a function of quality of sleep. The veterans with good sleep quality and relatively lower levels of AS had the lowest level of PTSD symptoms, whereas the veterans with poor sleep quality and low AS evidenced severity of PTSD symptoms similar to those with high AS.
Blum K, Giordano J, Oscar-Berman M, Bowirrat A, Simpatico T, & Barh D.
J Genet Syndr Gene Ther. 2012 May 31;3(3): PMID: 23264885 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
There is a need for understanding and treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in soldiers returning to the United States of America after combat. Likewise, it would be beneficial to finding a way to reduce violence committed by soldiers, here and abroad, who are suspected of having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We hypothesize that even before combat, soldiers with a childhood background of violence (or with a familial susceptibility risk) would benefit from being genotyped for high-risk alleles. Such a process could help to identify candidates who would be less suited for combat than those without high-risk alleles.
Of secondary importance is finding safe methods to treat individuals already exposed to combat and known to have PTSD. Since hypodopaminergic function in the brain's reward circuitry due to gene polymorphisms is known to increase substance use disorder in individuals with PTSD, it might be parsimonious to administer dopaminergic agonists to affect gene expression (mRNA) to overcome this deficiency.
Jacobson IG, Horton JL, Leardmann CA, Ryan MA, Boyko EJ, Wells TS, Smith B, & Smith TC.
J Trauma Stress. 2012 Nov 26; PMID: 23184886 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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.
California Institute of Integral Studies, 2012, 240 pages.
An integrative literature review and online survey examined the significance of military cultural competence in civilian clinicians treating U.S. combat veterans diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), where the U.S. military was understood as an unrecognized "cultural minority." Combat trauma's development as a diagnostic construct since the American Civil War was reviewed in the clinical literature, and cultural factors distinguishing combat PTSD from civilian trauma were identified. These factors include: (a) parallels between disseminated military values and behaviors inculcated into military personnel and the DSM-IV-TR criteria for PTSD; (b) the multi-faceted nature of trauma occurring in combat; and (c) retraumatization upon civilian reentry. Read more . . .
The current study examined the longitudinal effects of clinical and treatment utilization factors on aggressive behavior among 376 help-seeking U.S. veterans recently diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who were followed for 5-12 months. Participants were sampled from 4 strata: male Iraq/Afghanistan veterans, female Iraq/Afghanistan veterans, male prior-era veterans, and female prior-era veterans. Read more . . .
MacEachron A & Gustavsson N.
ADVANCES IN SOCIAL WORK, Fall 2012, 13(3)
Abstract: The incidence of PTSD and other combat-related trauma symptoms among more than 2 million veterans returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan suggests that many will experience psychological challenges in adjusting to civilian life. However, the literature is sparse about this new group of veterans.
This study examined the relationships between peer support, self-efficacy, and PTSD symptoms among 216 OIF/OEF veterans who had attended 1 of 17 Vets4Vets peer support weekend retreats. Vets4Vets is a national grassroots program whose mission is to improve the psychological well-being of returning OIF/OEF veterans. Analysis of posttest changes indicate the generalizability of previous research findings, based on other groups of trauma-affected groups, to OIF/OEF veterans.
As predicted, increased perceived peer support and self-efficacy reduced PTSD symptoms. From a theoretical perspective, we found that both models of self-efficacy, situation-specific (Bandura, 1997; Benight & Bandura, 2004) and general self-efficacy (Schwarzer & Fuchs, 1996), mediated or explained the relationship between peer support and PTSD symptoms. Implications for social work are discussed.
Collen JF, Lettieri CJ, & Hoffman M.
J Clin Sleep Med. 2012;8(6):667-72 PMID: 23243400 [PubMed - in process]
INTRODUCTION: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common comorbid condition in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); insufficiently treated OSA may adversely impact outcomes. Sleep fragmentation and insomnia are common in PTSD and may impair CPAP adherence. We sought to determine the impact of combat-related PTSD on CPAP adherence in soldiers. Read more . . .
Schoenfeld FB, Deviva JC, & Manber R.
J Rehabil Res Dev. 2012;49(5):729-52 PMID: 23015583 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Sleep disturbances are among the most commonly reported posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. It is essential to conduct a careful assessment of the presenting sleep disturbance to select the optimal available treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBTs) are at least as effective as pharmacologic treatment in the short-term and more enduring in their beneficial effects.
Cognitive-behavioral treatment for insomnia and imagery rehearsal therapy have been developed to specifically treat insomnia and nightmares and offer promise for more effective relief of these very distressing symptoms.
Pharmacotherapy continues to be an important treatment choice for PTSD sleep disturbances as an adjunct to CBT, when CBT is ineffective or not available, or when the patient declines CBT. Great need exists for more investigation into the effectiveness of specific pharmacologic agents for PTSD sleep disturbances and the dissemination of the findings to prescribers. The studies of prazosin and the findings of its effectiveness for PTSD sleep disturbance are examples of studies of pharmacologic agents needed in this area. Despite the progress made in developing more specific treatments for sleep disturbances in PTSD, insomnia and nightmares may not fully resolve.
Tansey CM, Rain P, & Wolfson C.
Epidemiol Rev (2012)
How individuals age is affected by life experiences. What we know today about aging has been largely shaped by a generation who experienced the special circumstances of wartime in their formative years. In this review, we investigate the research question, “What is known about the physical health of Canadian veterans?” In answering this question, we summarize the literature on Canadian Veterans but also include international literature on the physical health of American and Australian Veterans, along with some information from reports from Great Britain and other parts of Europe. Areas in which veterans perhaps fare worse than civilians of similar age include general health, hearing loss, musculoskeletal disorders, infections, cirrhosis, skin conditions, stomach conditions, neurologic conditions, and cardiovascular disease. The differing effects of combat on female veterans are also summarized. The healthy warrior effect is discussed along with its impact on research findings and the importance of choosing an appropriate control group.
Hughes J, Jouldjian S, Washington DL, Alessi CA, & Martin JL.
Behav Sleep Med. 2012 May 11; PMID: 23205531 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Women will account for 10% of the Veteran population by 2020, yet there has been little focus on sleep issues among women Veterans. In a descriptive study of 107 women Veterans with insomnia (mean age = 49 years, 44% non-Hispanic white), 55% had probable post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (total score ?33). Probable PTSD was related to more severe self-reported sleep disruption and greater psychological distress. In a regression model, higher PTSD Checklist-Civilian (PCL-C) total score was a significant independent predictor of worse insomnia severity index score while other factors were not. Women Veterans preferred behavioral treatments over pharmacotherapy in general, and efforts to increase the availability of such treatments should be undertaken. Further research is needed to better understand the complex relationship between insomnia and PTSD among women Veterans.
In 2010, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense (DOD) jointly published the revised VA/DOD Clinical Practice Guideline for Management of Posttraumatic Stress. The Clinical Practice Guideline (CPG) provides evidence-based recommendations for diagnosing and treating a spectrum of stress-related disorders. Included in the CPG were recommendations for assessing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other stress disorder-related functional impairment.
This article complements those CPG recommendations by providing information that may further guide clinicians in the assessment of functional impairment related to PTSD and other stress-related disorders. We briefly review some of the empirical literature on the association between PTSD and functional impairment and some of the more frequently used methods and measures for assessing functional impairment and introduce a new measure currently being developed by our group. We suggest that information obtained via patient self-report and/or clinician rating be supplemented whenever possible with collateral data from friends, family members, coworkers, or supervisors to provide a complete picture of current and premorbid functional status. Finally, we explore several important issues that we encourage clinicians to keep in mind when assessing functional impairment among Veterans and Active Duty servicemembers.
Garber BG, Zamorski MA, & Jetly R.
Can J Psychiatry. 2012 Dec;57(12):736-44 PMID: 23228232 [PubMed - in process]
Abstract Objective: The deployed environment poses special challenges to the delivery of effective in-theatre mental health care. Our study sought to identify the prevalence and impact of symptoms of mental health problems in Canadian Forces (CF) personnel serving in Task Force Afghanistan; and, to determine the use of, and perceived need for, mental health services in CF personnel while deployed. Read more . . .
Abstract: Poor sleep quality among individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with poorer prognosis and outcomes. The factor structure of the most commonly employed measure of self-reported sleep quality, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), has yet to be evaluated among individuals with PTSD. The current study sought to fill this gap among a sample of 226 U.S. military veterans with PTSD (90% with co-occurring mood disorders, 73.5% with substance use disorders).
We evaluated the factor structure of the PSQI by conducting an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) in approximately half of the sample (n = 111). We then conducted a second EFA in the other split half (n = 115). Lastly, we conducted a path analysis to investigate the relations between sleep factors and PTSD symptom severity, after accounting for the relation with depression.
Results suggested sleep quality can best be conceptualized, among those with PTSD, as a multidimensional construct consisting of 2 factors, Perceived Sleep Quality and Efficiency/Duration. After accounting for the association between both factors and depression, only the Perceived Sleep Quality factor was associated with PTSD (? = .51). The results provide a recommended structure that improves precision in measuring sleep quality among veterans with PTSD.
BACKGROUND: The efficacy of psychosocial therapies for common mental health disorders in veterans is unclear and requires further examination.
METHOD: Systematic review and meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Twenty databases were searched. Studies were included if they reported a psychosocial intervention designed to treat or reduce common mental health symptoms in veterans identified as being symptomatic at the time they entered the study. Studies of substance dependency disorders and psychosis were excluded. Eligible studies were assessed against methodological quality criteria and data were extracted and analysed. Read more . . .
Jones M, Sundin J, Goodwin L, Hull L, Fear NT, Wessely S, & Rona RJ.
Psychol Med. 2012 Nov 13;:1-10 PMID: 23199850 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
BACKGROUND: In previous studies an association between deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan and an overall increased risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in UK armed forces has not been found. The lack of a deployment effect might be explained by including, in the comparison group, personnel deployed on other operations or who have experienced traumatic stressors unrelated to deployment. Read more . . .
Wood MD, Foran HM, Britt TW & Wright KM.
Military Psychology Volume 24, Issue 6, 2012
Benefit finding and unit leadership have been identified as buffers against the negative effects of combat exposure on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. However, little is known about how these different buffers work together to protect military personnel from the negative effects of combat. We examined benefit finding and leadership as buffers of the combat-PTSD symptoms link in a sample of recently returned combat veterans (N = 583). Results revealed that when higher levels of noncommissioned officer (NCO) leadership and benefit finding (BF) were reported, fewer PTSD symptoms were endorsed. Additionally, BF buffered the relationship between combat stress and PTSD symptoms, but only under conditions of supportive officer leadership. Implications of these findings for military settings are discussed.
Hollowaya KM, & Regera GM.
International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction , posted online 08 Nov 2012.
Deploying Active Duty Service Members face multiple psychological health risks, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Despite a significant proportion of Service Members with psychological health needs, a number of barriers prevent access to education and treatment services available to them. These barriers include perceived stigma, physical access barriers, and psychological barriers.
Web resources provide important information regarding psychological health issues and available resources, but have limitations in the learning experience they can provide. Virtual worlds platforms, such as Second Life, offer unique affordances that may reduce some barriers to accessing psychological health education and care. They may allow for a unique immersive and interactive learning experience augmenting current web resources. One such virtual world environment, the T2 Virtual PTSD Experience, is described.
The T2 Virtual PTSD Experience aims to educate military Service Members, Veterans, family, and peers about the causes, symptoms, and help available for combat-related PTSD. Reactions from visitors have been positive, with many reporting improved understanding of PTSD and motivation to seek care. Future directions for leveraging virtual worlds in the service of psychological health care are discussed.
Canadian Military Journal Vol. 12, No. 4, Autumn 2012
Today, the care provided for members of the Canadian Forces (CF) and veterans who experience mental health problems as a result of military service is arguably as good as it has ever been in our history. This enviable situation came about because of many improvements to the ways the Department of National Defence (DND) and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) treat those with mental health problems, based upon lessons learned from the ‘Decade of Darkness’ - a time in the 1990s when the CF’s reputation in this area was at a historic low. Read more . . .
Rizzo AA, John B, Williams J, Newman B, Koenig ST, Lange BS & Buckwalter JG.
Proc. 9th Intl Conf. Disability, Virtual Reality & Associated Technologies Laval, France, 10–-12 Sept. 2012.
The incidence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in returning OEF/OIF military personnel has created a significant behavioral healthcare challenge. This has served to motivate research on how to better develop and disseminate evidence-based treatments for PTSD. One emerging form of treatment for combat-related PTSD that has shown promise involves the delivery of exposure therapy using immersive Virtual Reality (VR). Initial outcomes from open clinical trials have been positive and fully randomized controlled trials are currently in progress to further investigate the efficacy of this approach. Read more . . .
Canada. National Defence and Canadian Forces Ombudsman.
Ottawa: November, 2013.
Special report to the Minister of National Defence The Canadian Forces has been engaged in almost continuous operations since 1990 - more than 20 major operational missions the world over (most of which required multiple ‘troop’ rotations). Within a single professional generation, Canadian sailors, soldiers and air force personnel have adapted to increasingly more complex and challenging conflict environments, seamlessly morphing from peacekeepers to peacemakers to warriors. This transition required much of Canadian Forces members. Considerably more was also asked of their families. The current (relative) respite in operations tempo provides a unique opportunity to take stock of how military families are faring.
During the past few years there has been a noteworthy increase in family-related complaints to the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces (DND/CF) Ombudsman. As a result of this trend, as well as feedback given during Ombudsman visits to bases and wings across the country, the Ombudsman launched a systemic review into the well-being of military families in April 2012. Research was completed in June 2013. The report itself was finalized in September 2013. The review focused exclusively on the families of Regular Force members due to the substantial disparities in the nature and scope of the Regular Force and Reserve Force family communities.
Full text: http://www.ombudsman.forces.gc.ca/assets/OMBUDSMAN_Internet/docs/en/mf-fm-eng.pdf
by Veterans Affairs Canada , OTTAWA, June 18, 2013.
The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister for La Francophonie, today joined Dr. Raj Bhatla, Psychiatrist-in-Chief and Chief of Staff of the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group (The Royal), to launch a new mobile application that will assist Veterans, personnel of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) with operational stress injuries (OSIs).
The app, called OSI Connect, provides information and assistance for people living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, substance abuse and other types of OSIs, as well as their family members. Read more here: http://www.heraldonline.com/2013/06/18/4956370/minister-blaney-joins-the-royal.html#storylink=cpy
Full text: http://www.heraldonline.com/2013/06/18/4956370/minister-blaney-joins-the-royal.html
Bourne C, Mackay CE, & Holmes EA.
Psychol Med. 2012 Oct 18;:1-12 PMID: 23171530 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
BACKGROUND: Psychological traumatic events, such as war or road traffic accidents, are widespread. A small but significant proportion of survivors develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Distressing, sensory-based involuntary memories of trauma (henceforth 'flashbacks') are the hallmark symptom of PTSD. Understanding the development of flashbacks may aid their prevention. This work is the first to combine the trauma film paradigm (as an experimental analogue for flashback development) with neuroimaging to investigate the neural basis of flashback aetiology. We investigated the hypothesis that involuntary recall of trauma (flashback) is determined during the original event encoding. Read more . . .