Mental health diagnosis and occupational functioning in National Guard/Reserve veterans returning from Iraq

Christopher R Erbes, Matthew E. Kaler, Tamara Schult, Melissa A Polusny, Paul A Arbisi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations

Abstract

Occupational functioning represents both an important outcome for military servicemembers returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom and a predictor for long-term mental health functioning. We investigated the role of mental health diagnoses, determined by structured clinical interviews, on occupational functioning in a group of 262 National Guard/Reserve servicemembers within 1 year of returning from a 16-month OIF combat deployment. We assessed occupational functioning at the time of diagnostic interviews and 1 year later. We hypothesized that servicemembers with diagnoses of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and/or alcohol abuse or dependence would exhibit lower rates of employment at both time points and lower rates of reported work and/or school role functioning. Servicemembers with a diagnosis of PTSD (5%, n = 13), subthreshold PTSD (6%, n = 15), a major depressive disorder (11%, n = 29), or alcohol abuse or dependence (11%, n = 28) did not differ on employment status from servicemembers without a diagnosis at either time point. However, those with a diagnosis of PTSD, depression, and/or alcohol abuse or dependence reported lower levels of work role functioning. In addition, servicemembers with a diagnosis of PTSD reported greater rates of deterioration in work role functioning over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1159-1170
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Rehabilitation Research and Development
Volume48
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

Keywords

  • Alcohol abuse or dependence
  • Combat deployment
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression
  • Employment
  • Mental health
  • National Guard
  • Occupational functioning
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Work role functioning

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