Psychological resilience in OEF-OIF Veterans: application of a novel classification approach and examination of demographic and psychosocial correlates

Robert H Pietrzak, Steven M Southwick
Journal of Affective Disorders 2011, 133 (3): 560-8
A growing number of studies have examined the prevalence and correlates of psychopathology in Veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (OEF-OIF), but few have examined determinants of resilience in this population. This study employed a novel approach to classify psychological resilience in a cross-sectional sample of OEF-OIF Veterans. A total of 272 predominantly older reserve/National Guard OEF/OIF Veterans completed a mail survey that assessed combat exposure, psychopathology, psychosocial functioning, and aspects of social support. Cluster analysis of scores on measures of combat exposure and PTSD symptoms revealed that a three-group solution best fit the data: Controls (low combat exposure, low PTSD symptoms); PTSD (high combat exposure, high PTSD symptoms); and Resilient (high combat exposure, low PTSD symptoms). Compared to the PTSD group, the Resilient group was more likely to be in a relationship and active duty; they also scored lower on a measure of psychosocial dysfunction, and higher on measures of psychological resilience and postdeployment social support. Logistic regression analysis revealed that being in a relationship, having fewer psychosocial difficulties, and reporting greater perceptions of purpose/control and family support and understanding were significantly associated with resilient group membership. Results of this study demonstrate a novel approach to classifying psychological resilience and suggest that interventions to mitigate psychosocial difficulties, enhance perceptions of purpose and control, and bolster family support and understanding may help promote resilience to combat-related PTSD in OEF-OIF Veterans.

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