Posttraumatic growth in Veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.J Affect Disord. 2010 Oct; 126(1-2):230-5.JA
A growing body of research has examined the prevalence and correlates of psychopathology, mild traumatic brain injury, and related problems in Veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (OEF-OIF). While these studies help characterize the deleterious effects of combat, no known study has examined factors that may enhance posttraumatic growth or positive changes experienced as a result of combat in this population.
A total of 272 predominantly older Reservist/National Guard OEF-OIF Veterans completed an anonymous mail survey that assessed combat exposure, psychopathology, psychosocial functioning, social support, and posttraumatic growth.
Seventy-two percent of the sample endorsed a significant degree of posttraumatic growth in at least one of the areas assessed, the most common of which were changing priorities about what is important in life (52.2%), being able to better appreciate each day (51.1%), and being better able to handle difficulties (48.5%). Hierarchical regression analysis revealed that younger age, greater posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and increased perceptions of unit member support and effort/perseverance were significantly associated with posttraumatic growth. Respondents with PTSD scored higher on an overall measure of posttraumatic growth and on items reflecting appreciation of life and personal strength.
This study is limited by a relatively low survey return rate and employment of an abbreviated measure of posttraumatic growth.
Results of this study suggest that interventions to bolster unit member support and to enhance perceptions of effort and perseverance may help promote posttraumatic growth in OEF-OIF Veterans.