The health and mental health of New Zealand Vietnam war veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder.N Z Med J. 1992 Oct 28; 105(944):417-9.NZ
To examine the extent of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a sample of New Zealand Vietnam veterans and to compare the pattern of health and mental health between veterans classified as posttraumatic stress disorder cases and non-cases.
Five hundred and seventy-three randomly selected male Vietnam veterans participated in a mailed survey. The questionnaire assessed several mental health dimensions and a number of components of physical health. Demographic and military service details were also gathered.
The study classified 12% of the sample of veterans as suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder. The posttraumatic stress disorder group differed from the non-posttraumatic stress disorder group on all measures of physical and mental health. They reported higher symptom scores, more disability days, lower self rated health and made more frequent contacts with health care providers. They also experienced greater anxiety, depression and loss of control, and lower wellbeing. Significant differences on some demographic and military service measures were also found between the groups.
A number of New Zealand Vietnam veterans may be classified as exhibiting the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, with the proportion being comparable to rates found in US studies. Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder experience significantly poorer physical and mental health. Combat experience in Vietnam appears to contribute to posttraumatic stress disorder level. It is suggested that posttraumatic stress disorder may be under-utilised as a diagnostic category because it may coexist with depression or anxiety states and that physicians should be attentive to military service as an indicator of posttraumatic stress disorder.