Post-traumatic stress disorder and service utilization in a sample of service members from Iraq and Afghanistan

Christopher Erbes, Joseph Westermeyer, Brian Engdahl, Erica Johnsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, alcohol abuse, quality of life, and mental health service utilization among returnees from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Methods: One hundred twenty returnees, enrolled for health care at a midwestern Veterans Affairs medical center, completed questionnaires approximately 6 months after their return from deployment. Results: PTSD levels (12%) were consistent with previous research while problematic drinking levels were also elevated (33%). PTSD and, to a lesser degree, alcohol abuse were associated with lower quality of life in multiple domains, even when controlling for the influence of depression. Of those screening positive for PTSD, 56% reported using mental health services. Only 18% of those screening positive for alcohol abuse reported using such services. Conclusions: PTSD and alcohol problems are prevalent in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom returnees and associated with lower quality of life. Mental health service utilization is limited, even among returnees enrolled for Veterans Affairs health care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-363
Number of pages5
JournalMilitary medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2007


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