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Family perceptions of post-deployment healthcare needs of Iraq/Afghanistan military personnel

Family perceptions of post-deployment healthcare needs of Iraq/Afghanistan military personnel

Mental Health in Family Medicine 7(3): 135-143

Nearly 40 000 service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered traumatic injuries, with over 300 000 at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other psychiatric problems. These veterans face numerous post-deployment health concerns, sharing substantial burdens with their families. Although many rely upon community-based health care, little is known about how these individuals present at family medicine clinics for perceived medical and psychological issues. We surveyed 347 patients during visits at six clinics, and respondents reported whether they,a family member or a close acquaintance had been deployed since 2001. Patients identified traumatic military experiences, plus any attributable health or social problems. The mean patient age was 47.5 years, with 71% women and 55% Hispanic individuals. Nearly one-quarter reported family members serving overseas while 52% knew someone deployed. Significant events included nearby explosion (21%) or combat injury (9%), along with a variety of other incidents. Among the half of individuals perceiving significant health or social ramifications, the most prevalent consequences were PTSD, depression and alcohol abuse. Divorce or marital problems were noted by13%, while many reported employment, legal or other difficulties. This study offers insights into post-deployment needs of military personnel and subsequent problems reported by family members. A high prevalence of traumatic combat events translated into serious health needs, plus social disruptions for veterans and their loved ones. As the long-term problems disclosed by returning service personnel continue to ripple across community clinics and other health systems, effective treatment planning mandates coordinated attention from multiple providers and service organisations.

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Accession: 053206929

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PMID: 22477935

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