Psychiatric diagnoses, comorbidity, and functioning in National Guard troops deployed to Iraq

Shannon M Kehle-Forbes, Madhavi K. Reddy, Amanda G. Ferrier-Auerbach, Christopher R Erbes, Paul A Arbisi, Melissa A Polusny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Objective: Over 1.8 million troops have been deployed to Iraq (OIF) and Afghanistan. Estimates of mental health problems postdeployment have been based on screening instruments; no studies have examined the postdeployment mental health of troops returning from OIF using structured diagnostic interviews. The goal of the current study is to (a) report on rates of mental health diagnoses and comorbidity in soldiers after deployment to OIF using clinical interviews, and (b) examine the relationship between mental health diagnoses and overall functioning and quality of life. Method: Participants were 348 National Guard soldiers drawn from the Readiness and Resilience in National Guard Soldiers (RINGS) study, a longitudinal study of mental health after deployment to OIF from March 2006 to July 2007. Participants completed clinical interviews, including the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale and the Structured Clinical Interview for the DSM-IV, and self-report measures of social adjustment and quality of life 6-12 months following deployment. Results: Most participants did not meet criteria for a mental health diagnosis. Non-PTSD anxiety disorders and depressive disorders were the most common. Mental health diagnoses were associated with poorer functioning and quality of life. PTSD had the strongest relationship with social functioning and quality of life. For those with PTSD, comorbid diagnoses were not associated with an incremental decrease in functioning or quality of life. Conclusions: The findings highlight the significant rate and burden of mental health disorders among this population and suggest that while PTSD is relatively uncommon, it is a particularly deleterious disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-132
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of the Army, or the Department of Defense. This material is supported in part by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Office of Research of Development, Health Services Research & Development.

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Minneapolis VA Medical Center Research Service and grants to Melissa A. Polusny, PhD, from Minnesota Medical Foundation (Grant #3662-9227-06 ) and Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) ( W81XWH-07-2-003 ) and a grant to Christopher R. Erbes, PhD, from the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Service Research and Development program ( RRP 08-385 ). None of the sponsors had any role in the following: design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; and preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.


  • Military
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Psychiatric diagnosis
  • Quality of life
  • Trauma


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