Health Services Research & Development

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2007 HSR&D National Meeting Abstract

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National Meeting 2007

3074 — Resilience as a Protective Factor against the Development of PTSD Symptoms Following Combat Exposure in OIF/OEF Veterans

Roberts ST (VISN 6 MIRECC/Durham VAMC) , Calhoun PS (VISN 6 MIRECC/Durham VAMC/VA Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care/Duke Univ Medical Center), Beckham JC (VISN 6 MIRECC/Durham VAMC/Duke Univ Medical Center), Straits-Troster K (VISN 6 MIRECC/Durham VAMC/Duke Univ Medical Center), Marx C (VISN 6 MIRECC/Durham VAMC/Duke Univ Medical Center), Tupler L (VISN 6 MIRECC/Durham VAMC/Duke Univ Medical Center), Morey R (VISN 6 MIRECC/Durham VAMC/Duke Univ Medical Center)

Preliminary data suggest that 11% to 19% of veterans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan (OIF/OEF) are experiencing significant mental health problems. There is little known, however, about factors that protect against the development or severity of PTSD within these veterans. The present study sought to investigate the relationship between combat exposure, resilience, and PTSD symptoms.

Participants in the VISN-6 Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) OIF/OEF registry served as subjects. Trauma exposure was assessed using the Combat Exposure Scale (CES). Self-report of the frequency and intensity of PTSD symptoms was measured using the Davidson Trauma Scale (DTS). A cutting score of > 40 on the DTS was used to determine PTSD diagnosis. Resilience, which can be conceptualized as a stress coping ability, was measured using the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC). The CD-RISC is a reliable, valid self-report measure consisting of 25-items, each rated on a 5-point scale. Regression analyses were conducted to test the hypothesis that resiliency factors would be associated with decreased PTSD and lower symptom severity following trauma exposure.

The sample included 252 veterans (mean age = 38 years, SD=10) of which 19% were female, 58% reported minority racial/ethnic status, and 47% were married. Sixty-one percent of the sample met criteria for PTSD. Consistent with previous research, those with high combat exposure had increased odds of current PTSD (OR=6.60, 95% CI = 3.32-13.10). Age (OR=0.96, 95% CI = 0.92-0.99), being married (OR=0.41, 95% CI = 0.19-0.90), and being high in resiliency (OR=.0.11, 95% CI = 0.06-0.21) decreased the odds of having current PTSD. Among only those veterans with PTSD, resiliency (Beta= -0.37, p<.001) was uniquely associated with decreased PTSD severity after accounting for demographic variables and combat exposure severity.

Results support the hypothesis that resilience factors are associated with PTSD and PTSD symptom severity following combat exposure. Resiliency may be an important protective factor against the development of PTSD symptoms following combat exposure.

Psychological resilience is significantly associated with decreased PTSD and PTSD symptom severity. Efforts should be made to increase the resiliency of OIF/OEF veterans to improve post-deployment mental health.