Study Suggests Majority of OEF/OIF Veterans Interested in Interventions/Information to Help with Community Readjustment
- An estimated 40% of OEF/OIF combat Veterans who used VA medical services perceived some to extreme overall difficulty readjusting to civilian life within the past 30 days.
- Between 25% and 56% of the participants had some to extreme difficulty in specific areas related to social functioning, productivity, community involvement, and self-care. For example, 31% reported more alcohol and drug use, and 57% reported more anger control problems since returning from Iraq or Afghanistan.
- Almost all Veterans (96%) expressed interest in services to help them readjust to civilian life.
- Veterans with probable PTSD (n=291) reported more reintegration problems and expressed interest in more kinds of services for these problems than did Veterans without probable PTSD (n=463).
- The most commonly preferred ways to receive reintegration services or information were at a VA facility, through the mail, and via the Internet. Almost all OEF/OIF Veterans in this study had access to the Internet and used it regularly.
Research suggests a rise in the rate of psychiatric problems among U.S. service members and Veterans as the time since deployment increases, and reports of increased marital and occupational difficulties after military service in Iraq and Afghanistan provide further evidence of post-deployment reintegration problems. Research on post-deployment problems among OEF/OIF Veterans is needed to inform the development and resourcing of health services. This study sought to describe the prevalence and types of community reintegration problems among OEF/OIF combat Veterans who had made at least one visit to a VA healthcare facility between October 2003 and July 2007– and to identify their interest in interventions or information to facilitate community readjustment. Using survey and VA administrative data, investigators also explored the association between probable PTSD, reintegration problems, and treatment interests. The survey was mailed and completed between 4/08 and 7/08 by a national, random sample of 754 OEF/OIF combat Veterans.
- Investigators speculate that combat Veterans using VA healthcare may carry a greater burden of illness than non-combatants and those Veterans who do not use VA healthcare services.
- This study used a questionnaire screening measure to identify probable PTSD rather than gold standard diagnostic interviews.
This study was funded by HSR&D (RRP 07-315). Dr. Sayer leads VA/HSR&D’s Polytrauma and Blast-Related Injuries Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (PT/BRI-QUERI).
Sayer N, Noorbaloochi S, Frazier P, et al. Reintegration Problems and Treatment Interests among Iraq and Afghanistan Combat Veterans Receiving VA Medical Care. Psychiatric Services June 2010;61(6):589-97.