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HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Going to war does not have to hurt: preliminary findings from the British deployment to Iraq

June, 2005
Article:

The ‘common-sense’ assumption that service personnel deployed to combat zones will tend to return with reduced psychological health has received a measure of support in some recent work. This study involved a brief mental health screen of 254 members of the UK’s Air Assault Brigade before and after deployment to Iraq; analysis of the results revealed a meaningfully lower score after deployment, indicating a highly significant relative improvement in mental health. These findings suggest that war is not necessarily bad for psychological health.

Abstract

We carried out a brief longitudinal mental health screen of 254 members of the UK's Air Assault Brigade before and after deployment to Iraq in 2004. Analysis of General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28) scores before and after deployment revealed a lower score after deployment (mean difference=0.93, 95% CI 0.35-1.52).This indicated a highly significant relative improvement in mental health (P<50.005). Moreover, only 9 of a larger sample of 421 (2%) exceeded cut-off criteria on the Trauma Screening Questionnaire. These findings suggest that war is not necessarily bad for psychological health.

Full Reference

Hacker Hughes, J., Cameron, F., Eldridge, R., Devon, M., Wessely, S. and Greenberg, N., 2005. Going to war does not have to hurt: preliminary findings from the British deployment to Iraq. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 186(6), 536-537.

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