Predictors of PTSD 40 years after combat: Findings from the National Vietnam Veterans longitudinal study

Maria M. Steenkamp, William E. Schlenger, Nida Corry, Clare Henn-Haase, Meng Qian, Meng Li, Danny Horesh, Karen Inge Karstoft, Christianna Williams, Chia Lin Ho, Arieh Shalev, Richard Kulka, Charles Marmar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Few studies have longitudinally examined predictors of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a nationally representative sample of US veterans. We examined predictors of warzone-related PTSD over a 25-year span using data from the National Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study (NVVLS). Methods: The NVVLS is a follow-up study of Vietnam theater veterans (N = 699) previously assessed in the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS), a large national-probability study conducted in the late 1980s. We examined the ability of 22 premilitary, warzone, and postmilitary variables to predict current warzone-related PTSD symptom severity and PTSD symptom change in male theater veterans participating in the NVVLS. Data included a self-report Health Questionnaire survey and a computer-assisted telephone Health Interview Survey. Primary outcomes were self-reported PTSD symptoms assessed by the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL 5) and Mississippi PTSD Scale (M-PTSD). Results: Predictors of current PTSD symptoms most robust in hierarchical multivariable models were African-American race, lower education level, negative homecoming reception, lower current social support, and greater past-year stress. PTSD symptoms remained largely stable over time, and symptom exacerbation was predicted by African-American race, lower education level, younger age at entry into Vietnam, greater combat exposure, lower current social support, and greater past-year stressors. Conclusions: Findings confirm the robustness of a select set of risk factors for warzone-related PTSD, establishing that these factors can predict PTSD symptom severity and symptom change up to 40 years postdeployment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)711-722
Number of pages12
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Volume34
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords

  • PTSD veterans predict Vietnam longitudinal military

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