Post-traumatic stress disorder in Australian World War II veterans attending a psychiatric outpatient clinic.Med J Aust. 1993 Apr 19; 158(8):563-6.MJ
To ascertain the frequency of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in World War II veterans attending a psychiatric outpatient clinic in an Australian veterans' hospital and to compare veterans with and without PTSD according to certain psychological variables.
Over a three-month period veterans were assessed at their next appointment by their treating doctors (psychiatrists or psychiatric registrars) for PTSD according to the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-III-R). At the same time they completed two questionnaires and provided information about their war experiences.
The psychiatric outpatient department at Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, Melbourne.
One hundred and twenty World War II veterans attended during the three-month period and 108 (90%) agreed to participate and are included in this study.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES
The treating doctors recorded the presence or absence and severity of veterans' symptoms of PTSD. The General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-60) and the Impact of Events Scale (IES) were then completed by participants under supervision.
Forty-nine veterans (45%) were found to have active PTSD 45 years after the war. The presence of PTSD was significantly associated with the taking of casualties (an indicator of severity of war stress as reported by the veterans themselves) and with combat stress as rated by their treating doctors. The veterans with PTSD obtained significantly higher scores on both the GHQ-60 and the IES, and reported no significant reduction in symptoms of PTSD over the preceding 10 years. The presence of both an anxiety and a depressive disorder was substantially and significantly more common in the veterans who had PTSD.
Overall, the study revealed a high frequency of PTSD and a strong persistence of this condition in psychiatric outpatients who were veterans of World War II.