PTSD in U.S. Veterans: The Role of Social Connectedness, Combat Experience and Discharge | MDPI
Sara Kintzle, Nicholas Barr, Gisele Corletto and Carl A. Castro
Service members who transition out of the military often face substantial challenges during their transition to civilian life. Leaving military service requires establishing a new community as well as sense of connectedness to that community. Little is known about how social connectedness may be related to other prominent transition outcomes, particularly symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The purpose of this study was to explore the role of social connectedness in the development of PTSD, as well as its relationship to the known risk factors of combat exposure and discharge status. Data used were drawn from a needs assessment survey of 722 veterans. A path model was specified to test direct and indirect effects of combat experiences, non-honorable discharge status, and social connectedness on PTSD symptoms. Results demonstrated positive direct effects for combat experiences and non-honorable discharge status on PTSD symptoms while social connectedness demonstrated a negative direct effect. Both combat experiences and non-honorable discharge status demonstrated negative direct effects on social connectedness and indirect on PTSD through the social connectedness pathway. Study findings indicate social connectedness may be an important factor related to PTSD in veterans as well as an intervention point for mitigating risk related to combat exposure and discharge status.
Thinking “Big” About Research on Military Families | Military Behavioral Health
2017 Research examining military families is often limited by data collection challenges. Big data approaches can provide greater data access and a more robust picture of individuals, groups, and systems. In this article, the authors discuss the use of big data for military family research. First, they describe the Person-Event Data Environment, a big data solution currently used by the Department of Defense. Then, they discuss several datasets that incorporate constructs of interest to family researchers, including the Family Global Assessment Tool (GAT), a dataset on psychosocial well-being. Next, the authors describe the sample of spouses who have completed the Family GAT (n = 1250). Finally, they discuss theoretical frameworks that provide a foundation for big data research on military families, noting potential future directions.
PTSD and Physical Health Symptoms Among Veterans: Association with Child and Relationship Functioning | Marriage & Family Review
2016 This study examines the association between veterans’ physical and mental health symptoms and perceptions of adverse child and relationship functioning. Veteran responses to the PHQ-15, assessing physical health; the PCL-C, assessing PTSD symptoms; and reports of family challenges were drawn from a countywide veterans survey. Findings indicate physical health (OR = 1.048; 95% CI, 1.002, 1.098) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology (OR = 1.019; 95% CI, 1.004, 1.034) independently predicted increased child difficulties. Similarly, physical health (OR = 1.081; 95% CI, 1.012, 1.154) and PTSD symptoms (OR = 1.043; 95% CI, 1.022, 1.065) independently impacted relationship difficulties. Using standardized coefficients to compare, PTSD symptoms were a stronger predictor across both models. Results highlight the dual importance of assessing both veterans’ physical and mental health symptoms to understand family functioning. Additionally, these findings underscore the importance of longitudinal research, which can follow families beyond separation from the military.
Military Sexual Assault (MSA) Among Veterans in Southern California: Associations With Physical Health, Psychological Health, and Risk Behaviors | Traumatology
2016 This study describes the relationship between military sexual assault (MSA) and various health and behavioral outcomes among a community-based sample of male (n = 2,208) and female (n = 327) veterans. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to assess the relationship of MSA with physical health symptoms (PHQ-15), probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; PCL) and depression (PHQ-9), risk-taking behaviors, and alcohol use (AUDIT-C) among men and women. Among the sample, 4.8% of male and 40.6% of female veterans reported experiencing MSA. Men who experienced MSA had approximately 4 times the odds of physical health symptoms, and probable PTSD and depression, compared with those without MSA (p < .001 for all). Male veterans also had significantly increased odds of taking unnecessary health risks (p < .001), risking a sexually transmitted disease (STD; p = .005), driving while intoxicated (p = .022), taking unnecessary life risks (p < .001), and using tobacco (p = .012) in the last year if they had experienced MSA. Women who experienced MSA had approximately double the odds of physical health symptoms (p = .002), 3 times the odds of depressive symptoms (p < .001), and almost 7 times the odds of probable PTSD (p < .001). Female veterans with MSA also had significantly greater odds of taking unnecessary health risks (p = .003), taking unnecessary life risks (p = .001), and using tobacco (p = .003) in the last year than those without MSA. These findings highlight the unique treatment needs of male and female victims of MSA, the potential long-term impact of MSA, and the need for timely assessment of MSA to help mitigate negative health outcomes among veterans.
The State of the American Veteran: The Chicagoland Veterans Study | USC School of Social Work, Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families
2016 The State of the American Veteran: The Chicagoland Veterans Study, conducted by the University of Southern California (USC) School of Social Work Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families (CIR) and in partnership with Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work, is an effort to provide data-driven recommendations for serving the large population of veterans residing in Chicago and the surrounding area. Service members encounter a series of needs as they transition out of the military. These include securing employment and housing, addressing physical or mental health issues and adjusting to civilian culture. The ease through which this transition is made has a profound impact on post-service well-being. In an effort to examine how Chicagoland veterans have managed this transition as well as the current state of their overall needs, the Chicagoland Veterans Study surveyed 1,294 veterans living in Cook, DuPage, Lake and Will counties. In addition, focus group interviews were conducted to supplement the findings from the survey. The findings from the current study closely mirror those observed from similar studies conducted in Southern California in Los Angeles and Orange counties (Castro, Kintzle, & Hassan, 2014). That many findings and recommendations are similar across cities and states is critically important as it indicates a national veteran transition effort is needed and that veteran transition is not just an issue for a single city or state. Further, commonalities across cities and states indicate a broader systemic issue, which will require systemwide changes.
Ptsd Symptoms, Suicidality and Non-suicidal Risk to Life Behavior in a Mixed Sample of Pre- and Post-9/11 Veterans | Social Work in Mental Health
2016 This study investigated relationships between symptom clusters of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicidal ideation, suicide plan, and non-suicidal risk to life behavior (NSRB) behavior in a sample of 1,356 pre- and post-9/11-era military veterans. After controlling for a positive PTSD screen, results indicated that suicidal ideation was significantly associated with re-experiencing symptoms (OR = 1.12), White race (OR = 1.82) and use of pain medication (COR = 1.62). Suicide plan was associated with avoidance symptoms (OR = 1.08), and NSRB with hyperarousal symptoms (OR = 1.11) and severe alcohol use (OR = 2.10). Standardized coefficients indicated that re-experiencing symptoms (b = .38) were a stronger predictor of suicidal ideation than White race (b = .16) or pain medication (b = .12) and that hyperarousal symptoms (b = .36) were a stronger predictor of NSRB than severe alcohol use (b = .15). The interpersonal–psychological theory of suicide was used to frame a discussion of military specific suicide risk as well as the risk of premature death among veterans who endorse NSRB but not suicidality. We suggest that this subset of veterans may be overlooked by traditional screening methods while nonetheless presenting with great risk for premature death.
USC ‘State of the American Veteran Conference’ to address critical Veteran issues | Lima Charlie