Mental and physical health status and alcohol and drug use following return from deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan

Susan V. Eisen, Mark R. Schultz, Dawne Vogt, Mark E. Glickman, A. Rani Elwy, Mari Lynn Drainoni, Princess E. Osei-Bonsu, James Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: We examined (1) mental and physical health symptoms and functioning in US veterans within 1 year of returning from deployment, and (2) differences by gender, service component (Active, National Guard, other Reserve), service branch (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines), and deployment operation (Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom [OEF/OIF]). Methods: We surveyed a national sample of 596 OEF/OIF veterans, over-sampling women to make up 50% of the total, and National Guard and Reserve components to each make up 25%. Weights were applied to account for stratification and nonresponse bias. Results: Mental health functioning was significantly worse compared with the general population; 13.9% screened positive for probable posttraumatic stress disorder, 39% for probable alcohol abuse, and 3% for probable drug abuse. Men reported more alcohol and drug use than did women, but there were no gender differences in posttraumatic stress disorder or other mental health domains. OIF veterans reported more depression or functioning problems and alcohol and drug use than did OEF veterans. Army and Marine veterans reported worse mental and physical health than did Air Force or Navy veterans. Conclusions: Continuing identification of veterans at risk for mental health and substance use problems is important for evidence-based interventions intended to increase resilience and enhance treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S66-S73
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Volume102
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2012

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