RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, NON-P.H.S.
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Latent classes of PTSD symptoms in Iraq and Afghanistan female veterans.

BACKGROUND: Recent studies have used latent class analysis (LCA) to identify subgroups of individuals who share similar patterns of PTSD symptom endorsement; however, further study is needed among female veterans, whose PTSD symptom expression may vary from that of their male counterparts. The current study examined latent PTSD symptom classes in female veterans who returned from recent military service in Iraq and Afghanistan, and explored military and demographic variables associated with distinct PTSD symptom presentations.

METHODS: A retrospective analysis was conducted using existing medical records from female Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who were new users of VA mental health outpatient (MHO) care, had received a PTSD diagnosis anytime during the post-deployment period, and completed the PTSD checklist within 30 days of their first MHO visit (N=2425).

RESULTS: The LCA results identified four latent classes of PTSD symptom profiles in the sample: High Symptom, Intermediate Symptom, Intermediate Symptom with High Emotional Numbing (EN), and Low Symptom. Race/ethnicity, age, time since last deployment, and distance from a VA facility emerged as predictors of PTSD symptom presentation.

LIMITATIONS: The current study was cross-sectional and utilized administrative data. The results may not be generalizable to female veterans from other service eras.

CONCLUSIONS: Longer times between end of last deployment and initiation of MHO services were associated with more symptomatic classes. Exploration of PTSD symptom presentation may enhance our understanding of the service needs of female veterans with PTSD, and suggests potential benefits to engaging veterans in MHO soon after last deployment.

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