American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting

American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting

May 03, 2014
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Veterans with children may be at greater PTSD risk

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NEW YORK — Veterans who are separated from their children during their military deployment may be at greater risk for developing PTSD, according to data presented at the 2014 American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting.

“This study showed that there is a positive association between being a parent and having a diagnosis of PTSD,” Shonda Janke-Stedronsky, MD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, told Healio.com. “This study indicates that being a parent may be an additional risk factor to consider in the development of PTSD.”

Shonda Janke-Stedronsky, MD 

Shonda Janke-Stedronsky

Janke-Stedronsky and colleagues evaluated rates of newly-diagnosed PTSD among 78,762 veterans (mean age, 32 years) of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom — half of whom were parents of minors. The researchers calculated the relative odds of receiving a PTSD diagnosis based on the veterans’ parental status, controlling for demographic factors.

Results indicated that a greater proportion of veterans with children had PTSD compared with those without children (41% vs. 32%; P<.001). Additional analyses suggested a modest association between a PTSD diagnosis and having dependent children (OR=1.5; 95% CI, 1.04-1.05). The association between PTSD and parenthood was less significant among female veterans (OR=1.2; 95% CI, 1.02-1.37).

Other factors associated with increased odds of having newly-diagnosed PTSD included Hispanic ethnicity, greater medical comorbidity, major depression, being highly disabled and greater utilization of mental health services.

According to the researchers, this is the first study to quantify the relative odds of receiving a PTSD diagnosis among veterans with children. More research is needed to examine the effect of separation from children and the disruption of family roles during military deployment, but parenthood should be considered a risk factor for the development of the disorder, they said.

For more information:

Janke-Stedronsky S. Abstract #155. Presented at: American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting; May 3-7, 2014; New York.

Disclosure: Janke-Stedronsky reports no relevant financial disclosures.