National Guard Soldiers Prefer Family-Based Interventions for PTSD and Co-Occurring Family Problems
With the historically unprecedented deployment to OEF/OIF of National Guard and Reserve troops, who tend to be older and more likely married with families, more than 2.7 million family members have been affected by service members’ deployments. In light of the negative impact of combat-related PTSD on family relationships, as well as the potential for families to provide an important source of social support for combat Veterans, there is a pressing need for VA to address family concerns among this newest generation of combat Veterans. This is the first study that has examined Army National Guard soldiers’ interest in and preference for various treatment approaches for post-deployment reintegration problems. Investigators used an anonymous self-reported questionnaire to assess PTSD symptoms, relationship concerns, and treatment preferences, including interest in family-focused interventions, among 97 National Guard soldiers who had recently returned from OEF/OIF combat deployment. They were recruited to participate in the survey as part of a Soldier Readiness Training Program. On average, participants reported one OEF/OIF deployment, and nearly half screened positive for PTSD symptoms.
- Among a sample of Army National Guard soldiers recently returned from OEF/OIF combat deployment, a majority showed a preference for couples or family counseling over individual counseling.
- The percentage of soldiers willing to consider couples counseling (76%) was significantly greater than the percentage willing to consider individual counseling (64%). Among soldiers who also were parents, 80% preferred family counseling, while 75% reported they would consider individual counseling.
- Soldiers who reported a greater number of PTSD symptoms also reported more dissatisfaction with their romantic relationships.
- The number of participants in this study was small, thus findings should be considered preliminary.
- PTSD symptoms and relationship satisfaction were assessed using brief screens. The authors suggest that future studies employ more comprehensive assessments.
This study was funded through the Minneapolis VA Healthcare System. Dr. Polusny is part of HSR&D’s Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research, Minneapolis, MN.
Khaylis A, Polusny M, Erbes C, Gewirtz A, and Rath M. Post-traumatic Stress, Family Adjustment, and Treatment Preferences among National Guard Soldiers Deployed to OEF/OIF. Military Medicine Feb 2011;176(2):126-131.