Research on PTSD prevalence in OEF/OIF Veterans: expanding investigation of demographic variables
Averill, Lynnette A.
Fleming, CJ Eubanks
Holens, Pamela L.
Larsen, Sadie E.
- Publisher: Co-Action Publishing
European Journal of Psychotraumatology,
(issn: 2000-8198, eissn: 2000-8066)
military Veteran | PTSD | PTSD; military Veteran; OEF/OIF; prevalence rates; demographics; VA service use; marital status; relationships; Don't Ask, Don't Tell; LGBT | VA service use | Psychiatry | Short Communication | OEF/OIF | Don't Ask, Don't Tell | prevalence rates | relationships | marital status | Don't Ask Don't Tell | RC435-571 | demographics | LGBT
Background: A series of recent articles has reported on well-designed studies examining base rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) screenings within the Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan conflict)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq conflict) (OEF/OIF) military population. Although these studies have a number of strengths, this line of research points out several key areas in need of further examination.Objective: Many OEF/OIF Veterans do not use available Veterans Affairs (VA) services, especially mental health care. This highlights the need to understand the differences between those who use and do not use the VA, especially as research with pre-OEF/OIF Veterans suggests that these two groups differ in significant ways. The high rates of PTSD-related concerns in non-VA users also points to a need to understand whether—and where—Veterans are seeking care outside the VA and the accessibility of evidence-based, trauma-focused treatments in the community and private sectors. Careful examination of relationship status is also paramount as little research has examined relationship status or other relationship context issues. Social support, especially from a spouse, can buffer the development of PTSD; however, relationship discord has the potential to greatly exacerbate PTSD symptomatology. Furthermore, given the additional risk factors for sexual minority Veterans to be exposed to trauma, the 2011 repeal of the US Military “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy, and the emergence of the VA as likely the largest health care provider for sexual minority Veterans, it will be critically important to study the trauma and mental health experiences of this group.Conclusions: Studies that examine prevalence rates of PTSD in the returning cohort contribute significantly to our understanding of the US OEF/OIF military population. Further study of PTSD in relation to demographic variables such as VA and non-VA use, relationship status, and sexual orientation will provide rich data that will enhance our ability to develop policy and practice to provide the best care to this population.Keywords: PTSD; military Veteran; OEF/OIF; prevalence rates; demographics; VA service use; marital status; relationships; Don't Ask, Don't Tell; LGBTResponsible Editor: Chris Brewin, University College London, United Kingdom.(Published: 12 May 2015)Citation: European Journal of Psychotraumatology 2015, 6: 27322 - http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/ejpt.v6.27322