Social Support Critical for Military Mental Health

PHILADELPHIA — The Marine Resiliency Study-II examined changes in symptomatology across a deployment cycle to Afghanistan. Results were published recently in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.1

Researchers from the Philadelphia VAMC and the University of Pennsylvania conducted clinical testing on 1,041 U.S. servicemembers at two time points—either bracketing a deployment (855) or not (186).

The study team was looking at changes across the deployment cycle with deployment (low-trauma, high-trauma and nondeployed) and social support (low vs. high) as the grouping variables.

Results indicated that insomnia increased post-deployment regardless of deployment trauma, with standard effect for high-trauma and low-trauma equaling 0.39 and 0.26, respectively.

Only the high-trauma group showed increased post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and nonperspective-taking, however, for a standard effect of 0.40 and 0.30, respectively.

At the same time, the researchers reported that the low-trauma group showed decreased anxiety symptoms after deployment—standard effect 0.17).

Study authors suggested the associations also depend on social support, with standard effects ranging from −0.22 to 0.51.

“When the groups were compared, the high-trauma deployed group showed significantly worse PTSD and non-perspective-taking than all other groups,” the researchers explained. “Similar to studies in other military divisions, increased clinical symptoms were associated with high deployment stress in active-duty servicemembers, and social support shows promise as a moderator of said association.”

1. Moore TM, Risbrough VB, Baker DG, Larson GE, Glenn DE, Nievergelt CM, MaihoferA, Port AM, Jackson CT, Ruparel K, Gur RC. Effects of military service anddeployment on clinical symptomatology: The role of trauma exposure and socialsupport. J Psychiatr Res. 2017 Aug 19;95:121-128. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2017.08.013. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 28843074.

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