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Unit cohesion, traumatic exposure and mental health of military personnel.
Occup Med (Lond). 2016 Jun; 66(4):308-15.OM

Abstract

BACKGROUND

The benefit of military unit cohesion to morale and psychological resilience is well established. But it remains unclear whether unit cohesion modifies the association between deployment-related traumatic exposure and mental health problems.

AIMS

To examine the association between unit cohesion, traumatic exposure and poor mental health [symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), psychological distress and alcohol dependency] and assess whether the relationship between traumatic exposure and poor mental health differs by level of unit cohesion.

METHODS

A self-reported cross-sectional survey of Australian military personnel deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan between 2001 and 2009.

RESULTS

Among 11411 participants, those with low levels of unit cohesion had higher odds of PTSD symptoms [aOR (95% CI): 2.54 (1.88, 3.42)], very high psychological distress [aOR (95% CI): 4.28 (3.04, 6.02)] and a high level of alcohol problems [aOR (95% CI): 1.71 (1.32, 2.22)] compared with those reporting high unit cohesion on deployment. Higher exposure to traumatic events on deployment was associated with greater risk of PTSD symptoms, very high levels of psychological distress and high levels of alcohol problems in this cohort. However, there was no evidence of a statistically significant interaction between unit cohesion and traumatic exposures in influencing poor mental health.

CONCLUSIONS

Our findings suggest that both unit cohesion and traumatic exposure are independently associated with poor mental health. Efforts to improve military unit cohesion may help to improve the mental health resilience of military personnel, regardless of their level of traumatic exposure.

Authors+Show Affiliations

School of Public Health, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4006, Australia, j.kanesarajah@uq.edu.au.School of Public Health, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4006, Australia.Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales 2113, Australia.School of Public Health, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4006, Australia.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

26874354

Citation

Kanesarajah, J, et al. "Unit Cohesion, Traumatic Exposure and Mental Health of Military Personnel." Occupational Medicine (Oxford, England), vol. 66, no. 4, 2016, pp. 308-15.
Kanesarajah J, Waller M, Zheng WY, et al. Unit cohesion, traumatic exposure and mental health of military personnel. Occup Med (Lond). 2016;66(4):308-15.
Kanesarajah, J., Waller, M., Zheng, W. Y., & Dobson, A. J. (2016). Unit cohesion, traumatic exposure and mental health of military personnel. Occupational Medicine (Oxford, England), 66(4), 308-15. https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqw009
Kanesarajah J, et al. Unit Cohesion, Traumatic Exposure and Mental Health of Military Personnel. Occup Med (Lond). 2016;66(4):308-15. PubMed PMID: 26874354.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Unit cohesion, traumatic exposure and mental health of military personnel. AU - Kanesarajah,J, AU - Waller,M, AU - Zheng,W Y, AU - Dobson,A J, Y1 - 2016/02/12/ PY - 2016/2/14/entrez PY - 2016/2/14/pubmed PY - 2017/7/14/medline KW - Alcohol problems KW - PTSD KW - military KW - psychological distress KW - traumatic exposure KW - unit cohesion. SP - 308 EP - 15 JF - Occupational medicine (Oxford, England) JO - Occup Med (Lond) VL - 66 IS - 4 N2 - BACKGROUND: The benefit of military unit cohesion to morale and psychological resilience is well established. But it remains unclear whether unit cohesion modifies the association between deployment-related traumatic exposure and mental health problems. AIMS: To examine the association between unit cohesion, traumatic exposure and poor mental health [symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), psychological distress and alcohol dependency] and assess whether the relationship between traumatic exposure and poor mental health differs by level of unit cohesion. METHODS: A self-reported cross-sectional survey of Australian military personnel deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan between 2001 and 2009. RESULTS: Among 11411 participants, those with low levels of unit cohesion had higher odds of PTSD symptoms [aOR (95% CI): 2.54 (1.88, 3.42)], very high psychological distress [aOR (95% CI): 4.28 (3.04, 6.02)] and a high level of alcohol problems [aOR (95% CI): 1.71 (1.32, 2.22)] compared with those reporting high unit cohesion on deployment. Higher exposure to traumatic events on deployment was associated with greater risk of PTSD symptoms, very high levels of psychological distress and high levels of alcohol problems in this cohort. However, there was no evidence of a statistically significant interaction between unit cohesion and traumatic exposures in influencing poor mental health. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that both unit cohesion and traumatic exposure are independently associated with poor mental health. Efforts to improve military unit cohesion may help to improve the mental health resilience of military personnel, regardless of their level of traumatic exposure. SN - 1471-8405 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/26874354/Unit_cohesion_traumatic_exposure_and_mental_health_of_military_personnel_ L2 - https://academic.oup.com/occmed/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/occmed/kqw009 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -