JOURNAL ARTICLE

Psychosocial buffers of traumatic stress, depressive symptoms, and psychosocial difficulties in veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom: the role of resilience, unit support, and postdeployment social support

Robert H Pietrzak, Douglas C Johnson, Marc B Goldstein, James C Malley, Alison J Rivers, Charles A Morgan, Steven M Southwick
Journal of Special Operations Medicine: a Peer Reviewed Journal for SOF Medical Professionals 2009, 9 (3): 74-8
19739480

BACKGROUND: Little research has examined the role of protective factors such as psychological resilience, unit support, and postdeployment social support in buffering against PTSD and depressive symptoms, and psychosocial difficulties in veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 272 OEF/OIF veterans completed a survey containing PTSD and depression screening measures, and questionnaires assessing resilience, social support, and psychosocial functioning.

RESULTS: Lower unit support and postdeployment social support were associated with increased PTSD and depressive symptoms, and decreased resilience and psychosocial functioning. Path analyses suggested that resilience fully mediated the association between unit support and PTSD and depressive symptoms, and that postdeployment social support partially mediated the association between PTSD and depressive symptoms and psychosocial functioning.

LIMITATIONS: Generalizability of results is limited by the relatively low response rate and predominantly older and reserve/National Guard sample.

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that interventions designed to bolster unit support, resilience, and postdeployment support may help protect against traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, and improve psychosocial functioning in veterans.

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