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Influence of childhood adversity on health among male UK military personnel

  • Amy C. Iversen (a1), Nicola T. Fear (a2), Emily Simonoff (a3), Lisa Hull (a4), Oded Horn (a4), Neil Greenberg (a4), Matthew Hotopf (a4), Roberto Rona (a4) and Simon Wessely (a4)...
Abstract
Background

Exposure to childhood adversity may explain why only a minority of combatants exposed to trauma develop psychological problems.

Aims

To examine the association between self-reported childhood vulnerability and later health outcomes in a large randomly selected male military cohort.

Method

Data are derived from the first stage of a cohort study comparing Iraq veterans and non-deployed UK military personnel. We describe data collected by questionnaire from males in the regular UK armed forces (n=7937).

Results

Pre-enlistment vulnerability is associated with being single, of lower rank, having low educational attainment and serving in the Army. Pre-enlistment vulnerability is associated with a variety of negative health outcomes. Two main factors emerge as important predictors of ill health: a ‘family relationships’ factor reflecting the home environment and an ‘externalising behaviour’ factor reflecting behavioural disturbance.

Conclusions

Pre-enlistment vulnerability is an important individual risk factor for ill health in military men. Awareness of such factors is important in understanding post-combat psychiatric disorder.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Dr Amy C. Iversen, Department of Psychological Medicine, Weston Education Centre, Cutcombe Road, London SE5 9RJ, UK. Email: A.Iversen@iop.kcl.ac.uk
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

N.G. is a full-time active service medical officer seconded to King's Centre for Military Health Research as a liaison officer. S.W. is Honorary Consultant Advisor in Psychiatry to the British Army.

Footnotes
References
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
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Influence of childhood adversity on health among male UK military personnel

  • Amy C. Iversen (a1), Nicola T. Fear (a2), Emily Simonoff (a3), Lisa Hull (a4), Oded Horn (a4), Neil Greenberg (a4), Matthew Hotopf (a4), Roberto Rona (a4) and Simon Wessely (a4)...
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