This article explores how different military subgroups may be affected by deployment in terms of their experiences of post-traumatic stress disorder.
A large body of research has been produced in recent years investigating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among military personnel following deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan, resulting in apparent differences in PTSD prevalence. We compare prevalence estimates for current PTSD between military subgroups, providing insight into how groups may be differentially affected by deployment. Systematic literature searches using the terms PTSD, stress disorder, and acute stress, combined with terms relating to military personnel, identified 49 relevant papers. Studies with a sample size of less than 100 and studies based on data for treatment seeking or injured populations were excluded. Studies were categorized according to theatre of deployment (Iraq or Afghanistan), combat and noncombat deployed samples, sex, enlistment type (regular or reserve and [or] National Guard), and service branch (for example, army, navy, and air force). Meta-analysis was used to assess PTSD prevalence across subgroups. There was large variability in PTSD prevalence between studies, but, regardless of heterogeneity, prevalence rates of PTSD were higher among studies of Iraq-deployed personnel (12.9%; 95% CI 11.3% to 14.4%), compared with personnel deployed to Afghanistan (7.1%; 95% CI 4.6% to 9.6%), combat deployed personnel, and personnel serving in the Canadian, US, or UK army or the navy or marines (12.4%; 95% CI 10.9% to 13.4%), compared with the other services (4.9%; 95% CI 1.4% to 8.4%). Contrary to findings from within-study comparisons, we did not find a difference in PTSD prevalence for regular active-duty and reserve or National Guard personnel. Categorizing studies according to deployment location and branch of service identified differences among subgroups that provide further support for factors underlying the development of PTSD.
Hines, L. A., Sundin, J., Rona, R. J., Wessely, S., & Fear, N. T. (2014). Posttraumatic stress disorder post Iraq and Afghanistan: prevalence among military subgroups. Canadian journal of psychiatry. Revue canadienne de psychiatrie, 59(9), 468-79.