Combat stress reactions, posttraumatic stress disorder, cumulative life stress, and physical health among Israeli veterans twenty years after exposure to combat.Soc Sci Med. 2005 Sep; 61(6):1267-77.SS
This study examined the association of initial combat stress reaction (CSR), chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and cumulative life stress on physical health 20 years after the 1982 war with Lebanon, in a sample of 504 Israeli veterans of the war. Two groups were assessed: male veterans who fought and suffered from CSR and a matched group of male veterans from the same units who did not exhibit such reactions. Twenty years following the war, participants were asked to rate their general physical health status, report health complaints and risk behaviors, and were screened for PTSD. CSR and, to a greater extent, PTSD, were found to be associated with general self-rated health, chronic diseases and physical symptoms, and greater engagement in risk behaviors. CSR and PTSD were also related to greater cumulative life stress since the war. Both negative and positive life events were independently related to most of the physical health measures but did not account for the associations of CSR and PTSD with poorer health. Tests of the interactions between CSR, PTSD and life stress in their association with physical health and risk behaviors showed that PTSD suppressed the effects of additional life stress (negative life events had a weaker effect on health among participants with PTSD).