Projected rates of psychological disorders and suicidality among soldiers based on simulations of matched general population data

Anne M Gadermann, Stephen E Gilman, Katie A McLaughlin, Matthew K Nock, Maria Petukhova, Nancy A Sampson, Ronald C Kessler
Military Medicine 2012, 177 (9): 1002-10
Limited data are available on lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of psychological disorders and suicidal behaviors among Army personnel. We used simulation methods to approximate such estimates based on analysis of data from a U.S. national general population survey with the sociodemographic profile of U.S. Army personnel. Estimated lifetime prevalence of any Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) anxiety, mood, behavior, or substance disorder in this sample was 53.1% (17.7% for mood disorders, 27.2% for anxiety disorders, 22.7% for behavior disorders, and 14.4% for substance disorders). The vast majority of cases had onsets before the expected age of enlistment if they were in the Army (91.6%). Lifetime prevalence was 14.2% for suicidal ideation, 5.4% for suicide plans, and 4.5% for suicide attempts. The proportion of estimated preenlistment onsets was between 68.4% (suicide plans) and 82.4% (suicidal ideation). Externalizing disorders with onsets before expected age of enlistment and internalizing disorders with onsets after expected age of enlistment significantly predicted postenlistment suicide attempts, with population attributable risk proportions of 41.8% and 38.8%, respectively. Implications of these findings are discussed for interventions designed to screen, detect, and treat psychological disorders and suicidality in the Army.

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