Is There a Link between Childhood Trauma & the Impact of Deployment on the Development of Mental Disorder in Military Males?

Research Paper Title

Childhood trauma and the impact of deployment on the development of mental disorder in military males.

Background

Childhood adversity is associated with mental disorder following military deployment. However, it is unclear how different childhood trauma profiles relate to developing a post-deployment disorder. The researchers investigated childhood trauma prospectively in determining new post-deployment probable disorder.

Methods

In total, 1009 Regular male ADF personnel from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) Prospective Study provided pre- and post-deployment self-report data. Logistic regression and generalised structural equation modelling were utilised to examine associations between childhood trauma and new post-deployment probable disorder and possible mediator pathways through pre-deployment symptoms.

Results

There were low rates of pre-deployment probable disorder. New post-deployment probable disorder was associated with childhood trauma, index deployment factors (combat role and deployment trauma) and pre-deployment symptoms but not with demographic, service or adult factors prior to the index deployment (including trauma, combat or previous deployment).

Even after controlling for demographic, service and adult factors prior to the index deployment as well as index deployment trauma, childhood trauma was still a significant determinant of new post-deployment probable disorder. GSEM demonstrated that the association between interpersonal childhood trauma and new post-deployment probable disorder was fully mediated by pre-deployment symptoms.

This was not the case for those who experienced childhood trauma that was not interpersonal in nature.

Conclusions

To determine the risk of developing a post-deployment disorder an understanding of the types of childhood trauma encountered is essential, and pre-deployment symptom screening alone is insufficient.

Reference

Syed Sheriff, R., Van Hooff, M., Malhi, G., Grace, B. & McFarlane, A. (2019) Childhood trauma and the impact of deployment on the development of mental disorder in military males. Psychological Medicine. 1-9. doi: 10.1017/S0033291719000655. [Epub ahead of print].

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