HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Coming home may hurt: risk factors for mental ill health in US reservists after deployment in Iraq

Article

This research explores the ways in which reservist soldiers who return from serving in the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars are at risk from mental ill health. It considers factors that contribute to the potential development of ill health in this group of soldiers, in comparison to soldiers who serve in different circumstances.

Abstract

Little research has been conducted on the factors that may explain the higher rates of mental health problems in United States National Guard soldiers who have deployed to the Iraq War. This study examines whether financial hardship, job loss, employer support and the effect of deployment absence on co-workers, are associated with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The suggestion is that these four factors are associated with depression and PTSD, with variability based on outcome and time point. For example, job loss increased the odds of meeting criteria for depression at 3 and 12 months, and for PTSD at 12 months; the negative effect of deployment absence on co-workers increased the likelihood of meeting criteria for PTSD, but not depression, at both time points. These findings demonstrate that National Guard soldiers have unique post-deployment social and material concerns that impair their mental health.

Full Reference

Riviere et al., 2011, The British Journal of Psychiatry, Coming home may hurt: risk factors for mental ill health in US reservists after deployment in Iraq, 98, 2, 136-142.