August 19, 2014

The impact of PTSD symptoms on physical and mental health functioning in returning veterans

The Article Can Be Found Here
  • Research in this area indicates an association between PTSD and poorer general health functioning as well as mental health functioning.
  • Many studies focus on physical health especially the association between cardiovascular health and trauma experience. These studies usually examine medical records of returning veterans finding an increase in coronary artery disease, incidence of heart attacks as well as pulmonary function problems and other health issues (i.e., renal dysfunction, arthritis, cancer etc.)
  • This study examines the impact of PTSD on health functioning in recently returned veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Specifically, symptom clusters are examined in relation to physical and mental health with an emphasis on the hyperarousal symptom cluster.
Main findings:
  • 86% of the sample reported exposure to a traumatic or life threatening event during deployment. 12% met criteria for current substance use disorder and 20% met criteria for current depressive disorder.
  • CAPS (Clinician-administered PTSD scale) scores predicted both physical and mental health scores upon return from deployment.
  • Re-experiencing symptoms were uniquely related to physical health functioning and bodily pain as measured by self-report health questionnaires.
  • Hyperarousal symptoms were associated with feelings of lower energy and poorer perception of emotional health.

1. The authors did not expect re-experiencing symptoms to be associated with poorer health functioning. The authors explain one possible reason for this association could be intrusive thoughts or memories impacting a person’s perception of physical health. Do you agree with the authors explanation of this finding?

2. Do you think the comorbidity of current substance use disorder and current major depressive disorder could influence the participants perception of physical health problems?  

3. The study used a self-report measure of physical health rather than medical records or physician assessments to determine physical health problems. What are some of the benefits and limitations of using self-report measures of physical health rather than a more objective assessment?

4. How can we use this information about physical health functioning in relation to certain PTSD symptom clusters to inform treatment for veterans returning from deployment?

No comments:

Post a Comment