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Explanations for the increase in mental health problems in UK reserve forces who have served in Iraq

  • Tess Browne (a1), Lisa Hull (a1), Oded Horn (a1), Margaret Jones (a1), Dominic Murphy (a1), Nicola T. Fear (a2), Neil Greenberg (a3), Claire French (a3), Roberto J. Rona (a3), Simon Wessely (a3) and Matthew Hotopf (a3)...
Abstract
Background

Deployment to the 2003 Iraq War was associated with ill health in reserve armed forces personnel.

Aims

To investigate reasons for the excess of ill health in reservists.

Method

UK personnel who were deployed to the 2003 Iraq War completed a health survey about experiences on deployment to Iraq. Health status was measured using self-report of common mental disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), fatigue, physical symptoms and well-being.

Results

Reservists were older and of higher rank than the regular forces. They reported higher exposure to traumatic experiences, lower unit cohesion, more problems adjusting to homecoming and lower marital satisfaction. Most health outcomes could be explained by role, experience of traumatic events or unit cohesion in theatre. PTSD symptoms were the one exception and were paradoxically most powerfully affected by differences in problems at home rather than events in Iraq.

Conclusions

The increased ill-health of reservists appears to be due to experiences on deployment and difficulties with homecoming.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Professor Matthew Hotopf, King's Centre for Military Health Research, Weston Education Centre, London SE5 9RJ, UK. Tel: +44 (0)20 7848 0435; fax: +44 (0)20 7848 5408; email: m.hotopf@iop.kcl.ac.uk
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

None. N.G. is a full-time active service medical officer secondedt ot he King's Centre for Military Health Research as aliaison officer, paid by the Ministry of Defence. S.W. is honorary civilian consultant advisor to the British Army. Other funding is detailed in Acknowledgements.

Footnotes
References
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Explanations for the increase in mental health problems in UK reserve forces who have served in Iraq

  • Tess Browne (a1), Lisa Hull (a1), Oded Horn (a1), Margaret Jones (a1), Dominic Murphy (a1), Nicola T. Fear (a2), Neil Greenberg (a3), Claire French (a3), Roberto J. Rona (a3), Simon Wessely (a3) and Matthew Hotopf (a3)...
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