Subsyndromal posttraumatic stress disorder symptomatology in primary care military veterans: treatment implications.Psychol Serv. 2012 Nov; 9(4):383-9.PS
Subsyndromal posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is highly prevalent in Veterans Affairs Medical Centers' primary-care clinics and is associated with significant impairment. We used a cross-sectional design to examine PTSD symptoms and depressive disorders endorsed by two cohorts of Veterans meeting less than full PTSD criteria who presented to primary care at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center (i.e., those from Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) and non-OEF/OIF/OND Veterans). The Philadelphia VA Behavioral Health Lab (BHL) assessed 141 Veterans who screened positive for subsyndromal PTSD. Avoidance was endorsed significantly less often than arousal in the total group. When the groups were split by cohort era, higher levels of avoidance and lower levels of arousal were reported in the non-OEF/OIF/OND group than the OEF/OIF/OND group. Comorbid depression was present in 43.9% of the total group with no significant differences between groups. Exposure-based treatments for PTSD offered in specialty mental health clinics target avoidance symptoms. Because the endorsement of avoidance symptoms was low in both of the cohorts that were studied this may not be the most effective treatment target for Veterans with subsyndromal PTSD receiving treatment in primary care settings. For these Veterans, treatments that target reexperiencing and arousal symptoms and/or comorbid depression may be more effective.