Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms 5 Years After Military Deployment to Afghanistan
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In The Lancet Psychiatry, Iris Eekhout and colleagues present research into post-traumatic stress disorder in a large, longitudinal sample of Dutch military personnel deployed to Afghanistan. Self-rated post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, alongside potential moderating factors, were assessed at several timepoints from 1 month pre-deployment to 5 years after deployment. Eekhout and colleagues identified three trajectories of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms: a large group with low, subclinical post-traumatic stress disorder scores after deployment (resilient); a second group with increasing post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms that decreased after the first year (recovered); and a third group that showed moderate post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms initially, but after a long delay displayed marked increases in symptoms (delayed-onset). Importantly, this study has exposed a much longer timeframe for delayed-onset post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms than previous research has suggested. Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms were significantly higher 5 years after deployment than pre-deployment: 72 (13%) of 559 versus 27 (4%) of 680 (β 1·67, 1·14–2·20).