Linking Trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress, Good Sleep, & Psychological Flexibility in Military Personnel

Research Paper Title

Risk and protective factors for post-traumatic stress among New Zealand military personnel: A cross sectional study.

Background

Post-traumatic stress (PTS) is prevalent among military personnel. Knowledge of the risk and protective factors associated with PTS in this population may assist with identifying personnel who would benefit from increased or targeted support.

Therefore the aims of this study was to examine factors associated with PTS among New Zealand military personnel.

Methods

For this cross-sectional study, currently serving and retired military personnel were invited to complete a questionnaire.

The questionnaire included a measure of PTS (the Military Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist; PCL-M), where scores ≥30 indicate the experience of significant PTS symptoms and scores ≥45 indicate a presumptive clinical diagnosis of post-traumatic stress.

Potential risk and protective factors associated with PTS were examined using logistic regression modelling.

Results

1,817 military personnel completed the questionnaire.

PCL-M scores were ≥30 for 549 (30%) participants and ≥45 for 179 (10%) participants.

Factors associated with higher PCL-M scores were trauma exposure, older age, male sex, and Māori ethnicity.

Factors associated with lower PCL-M scores were greater length of service, psychological flexibility, and better quality sleep.

Conclusions

PTS was found to be prevalent among New Zealand military personnel.

The experience of trauma was strongly associated with PTS.

However, factors such as psychological flexibility (the ability to adapt to changes in circumstances) and good sleep were protective, suggesting that these factors could be key targets for interventions designed to reduce PTS among military personnel in New Zealand.

Reference

Richardson, A., Gurung, G., Samaranayaka, A., Gardner, D., deGraaf, B., Wyeth, E.H., Derrett, S., Shepherd, D. & McBride, D. (2020) Risk and protective factors for post-traumatic stress among New Zealand military personnel: A cross sectional study. PLoS One. 15(4), pp.e0231460. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0231460. eCollection 2020.

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