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Kang B, Xu H, McConnell ES. Neurocognitive and psychiatric comorbidities of posttraumatic stress disorder among older veterans: A systematic review. International journal of geriatric psychiatry. 2019 Apr 1; 34(4):522-538.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with neurocognitive and psychiatric comorbidities, and older adults experience comorbid illnesses disproportionately. Little is known about the comorbidities of PTSD among older veterans. This systematic review examines the prevalence, incidence, and patterns of neurocognitive and psychiatric comorbidities of PTSD among older veterans and explores the factors associated with these comorbidities.
A systematic literature review was performed using PubMed, CINAHL, and PsycINFO databases. The search was limited to peer-reviewed articles published in English from January 1980 to October 2018. Eligible studies examined the comorbid neurocognitive and psychiatric disorders of PTSD among veterans aged 60 and older.
Twenty-four studies met the criteria for inclusion. The risk for dementia was higher in veterans with PTSD than those without PTSD; hazard ratios ranged from 1.21 to 1.77. Depressive disorder was the most prevalent psychiatric comorbidity with estimates ranging from 33% to 52.3%, followed by generalized anxiety disorder (14%-15%) and substance use disorders (1.9%-11.3%). Factors consistently associated with PTSD comorbidities included age, combat-related exposures, clinical conditions, and health-related and psychosocial outcomes.
Despite heterogeneity in research designs and methodological limitations, this review highlights the need to consider comorbid neurocognitive and psychiatric disorders among older veterans with PTSD in order to individualize care approaches. Future research should incorporate factors associated with neurocognitive and psychiatric comorbidities of PTSD into study designs that can help improve prediction of comorbidity and generate evidence for developing and implementing tailored treatments in older veterans.