Injury severity ups risk of combat PTSD

Oct. 3, 2006 at 6:05 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. soldiers' estimates of the seriousness of their injuries directly affects whether they develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In the first study to focus on U.S. soldiers seriously injured in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan, Thomas Grieger and his colleagues at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research found that soldiers' personal rating of their physical problems, in contrast to objective measures of injury severity by medical personnel, was more significantly associated with the development of PTSD over the next 12 months.

The authors wrote that the emotional impact of injury deepens during the first year after evacuation from combat.

They studied more than 600 soldiers who were the most severely wounded of those injured from March 2003 to September 2004.

Of the 243 soldiers who completed assessments at one, four, and seven months after injury, 4 percent had PTSD and depression at one month, 12 percent at four months, and 19 percent at seven months. The soldiers who felt they were seriously injured one month after the injury occurred were far more likely to have PTSD seven months later than those who felt their wounds were less severe.

The study appears in the October 2006 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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