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Deployment-related stress and trauma in Dutch soldiers returning from Iraq: Prospective study

  • Iris M. Engelhard (a1), Marcel A. Van Den Hout (a1), Jos Weerts (a2), Arnoud Arntz (a3), Joop J. C. M. Hox (a4) and Richard J. McNally (a5)...
Abstract
Background

Some questionnaire studies have shown increased mental health problems, including probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in soldiers deployed to Iraq.

Aims

To test prospectively whether such problems change over time and whether questionnaires provide accurate estimates of deployment-related PTSD compared with a clinical interview.

Methods

Dutch infantry troops from three cohorts completed questionnaires before deployment to Iraq (n=479), and about 5 months (n=382, 80%) and 15 months (n=331, 69%) thereafter. Post-traumatic stress disorder was evaluated by questionnaire and clinical interview.

Results

There were no group changes for general distress symptoms. The rates of PTSD for each cohort were 21, 4 and 6% based on questionnaires at 5 months. The deployment-related rates of PTSD based on the clinical interview were 4, 3 and 3%.

Conclusions

There was a specific effect of deployment on mental health for a small minority. Questionnaires eliciting stress symptoms gave substantial overestimations of the rate of PTSD.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Dr Iris M. Engelhard, Clinical and Health Psychology, Utrecht University, PO Box 80140, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands. Email: i.m.engelhard@fss.uu.nl
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

None. Funding detailed in Acknowledgements.

Footnotes
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Deployment-related stress and trauma in Dutch soldiers returning from Iraq: Prospective study

  • Iris M. Engelhard (a1), Marcel A. Van Den Hout (a1), Jos Weerts (a2), Arnoud Arntz (a3), Joop J. C. M. Hox (a4) and Richard J. McNally (a5)...
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