This paper investigates the relations between post-deployment divorce/separation and post-deployment stressors, social support and psychiatric symptomatology.
Introduction: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a highly prevalent diagnosis in combat Veterans. In addition to reduced quality of life in various domains of functioning, PTSD also is associated with poorer relationships and social support, including marital dissatisfaction and divorce. Although post-deployment divorce/separation was noted as problematic in past conflicts, little is known about divorce/separation following modern conflicts, such as Operations Enduring/Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF). The present study investigated the relations between post-deployment divorce/separation and post-deployment stressors, social support, and psychiatric symptomatology in OEF/OIF Veterans seeking treatment for PTSD. Methods: We recruited 98 United States (US) male Veterans from OEF/OIF to participate in the study. Marital status of once-married was required for participation. All participants completed consent documentation and a series of diagnostic interviews and self-report measures. Participants were separated into two groups based on their post-deployment marital status (still married vs. divorced/separated). Results: One-third of the sample indicated they divorced/separated following OEF/OIF. Participants that endorsed a post-deployment divorce/separation demonstrated heightened stress during and after deployment as well as significantly less social support compared to participants who remained married. Discussion: The rates of divorce/separation reported in the sample were comparable to samples of the general American population, despite the elevated risk factors in the Veteran sample (e.g., psychiatric diagnosis). Also, Veterans reporting post-deployment divorce/separation endorsed heightened stress and poorer social support, two factors associated with poorer treatment outcome for PTSD. Together, these findings highlight potential factors associated with post-deployment divorce/separation in OEF/OIF Veterans with PTSD.
Gros, D. F., Lancaster, C. L., Teves, J. B., Libet, J. and Acierno, R., 2019. Relations between post-deployment divorce/separation and deployment and post-deployment stressors, social support, and symptomatology in Veterans with combat-related PTSD symptoms. JMVFH, 5(2). doi: 10.3138/jmvfh.2018-0015.