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Psychiatric distress among spouses of National Guard soldiers prior to combat deployment.

Erbes CR, Meis LA, Polusny MA, Arbisi PA. Psychiatric distress among spouses of National Guard soldiers prior to combat deployment. Mental health in family medicine. 2012 Sep 1; 9(3):161-9.

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Background The mental health functioning of military spouses and intimate partners prior to the combat deployments of their loved ones is poorly studied. Aims Whereas service members and veterans often receive healthcare directly from the military or the Department of Veterans Affairs, family members may be more likely to present in family care settings. An understanding of mental health problems commonly occurring in this population is therefore important. Method National Guard soldiers and their spouses or cohabitating partners (n = 223 couples) were surveyed about mental health symptoms, social functioning and mental health service utilisation one to two months prior to a combat deployment to Afghanistan. Results Screening rates for partner post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, alcohol problems and social impairment were 2.4, 15.3, 3.7 and 10.7%, respectively, and were significantly higher for partners than soldiers with regards to depression and social impairment. The majority of partners screening positive for psychiatric distress did not report utilising mental health services or military support services (i.e. family readiness groups). Clinical implications are discussed.

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