Author(s): Trautmann S, Schnfeld S, Hfler M, Heinrich A, Hauffa R,
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Abstract International studies suggest a growing risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with an increasing duration of deployment. There are no data available for the German armed forces that would allow an assessment of the average mission duration of about 4 months. Analyses are based on a stratified random sample of 1,483 ISAF soldiers. Standardized diagnostic interviews were conducted about 12 months after soldiers returned from mission. Deployment duration was categorized into 1-2 months, 3-5 months, and 5-8 months. Additionally, dimensional analyses of deployment duration were performed. Deployment duration was associated with the number of stressful and traumatic events. Notwithstanding, we found no linear relationship between mission duration and PTSD risk, neither in the total sample nor in the defined subgroups. However, we found a bimodal distribution suggesting an increased PTSD risk in the first 2 months and - less pronounced and limited to the Kunduz location - for deployment durations of at least 6 months. There was no general increase in PTSD risk with increasing deployment durations for German soldiers in this naturalistic study. The higher risk for soldiers with short deployments might be explained by selection of vulnerable subjects and different deployment characteristics. Further, there is some evidence of an increased PTSD risk for soldiers deployed for longer periods to high-risk locations (e.g., Kunduz).
This article was published in Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz
and referenced in Journal of Depression and Anxiety