PTSD New Research published in BMJ

According to BBC Online today (3 August 07) the British Medical Journal (BMJ) have reported that British troops are, on average, serving 20% longer than they are supposed to, increasing the risk of them developing PTSD.

The details of the paper in the BMJ are given below:

Mental health consequences of overstretch in the UK armed forces: first phase of a cohort study

Roberto J RONA, et al.

published: 30 July 2007

available gratis (in PDF) via:


Objective To assess the relation between frequency and duration of deployment of UK armed forces personnel on mental health.
Design First phase of a cohort study.

Setting UK armed forces personnel.

Participants Operational history in past three years of a randomly chosen stratified sample of 5547 regulars with experience of deployment.

Main outcome measures Psychological distress (general health questionnaire-12), caseness for post-traumatic stress disorder, physical symptoms, and alcohol use (alcohol use disorders identification test).

Results Personnel who were deployed for 13 months or more in the past three years were more likely to fulfil the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (odds ratio 1.55, 95% confidence interval 1.07 to 2.32), show caseness on the general health questionnaire (1.35, 1.10 to 1.63), and have multiple physical symptoms (1.49, 1.19 to 1.87). A significant association was found between duration of deployment and severe alcohol problems. Exposure to combat partly accounted for these associations. The associations between number of deployments in the past three years and mental disorders were less consistent than those related to duration of deployment. Post-traumatic stress disorder was also associated with a mismatch between expectations about the duration of deployment and the reality.

Conclusions A clear and explicit policy on the duration of each deployment of armed forces personnel may reduce the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder. An association was found between deployment for more than a year in the past three years and mental health that might be explained by exposure to combat.

What is already known on this topic

UK armed forces are being deployed more often than previously, so called overstretch

To allow objective monitoring the UK armed forces have recommended maximum deployment levels, called harmony guidelines

What this study adds

Duration of deployment above established guidelines is associated with more mental health problems

Combat exposure, type of deployment, and problems at home partly account for these associations

An association was found between expectation that duration of most recent deployment would be shorter than it actually was and post-traumatic stress disorder
Sad that peoples mental health is put at risk by not being able to tell people when they can go home. But i think its covering up the fact that alot of guys are getting ptstd due to what have they seen and not really being prepared(if you can be prepared) for some of the sights they deal with. Maybe the Army have a long way to go in dealing with mental health issues the Navy seem better.
I understand what you mean but i do not think todays guys are as well set mentally for the situations. I mean inthe old days alot of the guys would have had manual jobs and felt responsible compare this to your 19 year old finding himself used to mum and playstation joining up to find himself out in Iraq with loaded rifle away from luxury. He is out his depth he only joined up to get some money meet some friends as the brochure tells you. Suddenly he is getting shot at and seeing stuff and he starts wishing he was in a playstation game. PTSTD did exist years ago its a human response to extreme situations and i would never wish it on anyone.
finknottle said:
I have no desire to appear flippant regarding this issue but you do wonder how they ever coped during 1914-18 and 1939-45?
Many suffered long-term psychological affects but in those far off days it wasn't discussed as it is today. My ex-G Spot relative who survived being a Japanese POW could never discuss his experiences as a POW (or at the G Spot). However he was still horribly thin when he died in his 80s! He woke up literally "re-living" his wartime experiences. Today his condition would be called PTSD.

PS: Is that a pint glass you are offering, of Krug? (Licking lips)
finknottle said:
I have no desire to appear flippant regarding this issue but you do wonder how they ever coped during 1914-18 and 1939-45?
In the 1st WW you were classed as "lacking in Moral fiber" and as such shot."Shell Shock" wasnt looked on as a bona fide disease untill quite late.In the 2nd WW however it was recognised that the longer a serviceman was exposed to the horrors of War, the greater the chances of Mental Health issues.To that end the UK troops spent considerably less time in the Front line than their US counterparts. So really this report is nothing new!
I have no desire to appear flippant regarding this issue but you do wonder how they ever coped during 1914-18 and 1939-45?

I am a Military Mental Health Nurse. While doing my training in the 1990s in Scotland I had the honour to meet quite a few WWII veterans (particularly FEPOWs) who were still suffering the psychological after effects some 50 years later. It even rings bells that a family had just got in touch with an elderly uncle who had been admitted to a psychiatric unit in the 1920s following his WWI experiences and had never been spoken of again. Imagine finding a 90ish year old uncle / greatuncle who nobody knew about.

Just because the signs and symptoms of PTSD were not talked about doesn't mean that people didn't have to live with them every day.

I think we are actually lucky to live in an age where mental health has less of a stigma than it did then.

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