Preliminary evidence of psychological distress among reservists in the persian war

David T. Holmes, Pierre N. Tariot, Christopher Cox

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21 Scopus citations


This study was conducted as a preliminary investigation into the presence and nature of psychological distress among military reserve personnel as a result of their participation in the Persian Gulf War. Eleven months after cessation of hostilities in the Gulf War, a self-report survey was mailed to the home of each of the 1090 members who had been assigned to the study Air National Guard unit during this period. After unit activation in December 1990, 517 of these individuals were deployed to the Persian Gulf as participants in Operation Desert Storm. The remainder of the unit participated in their military service during this period without being deployed to the Persian Gulf. The survey consisted of a demographic section, the Mississippi Scale for Combat Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (M- PTSD), the revised Symptom Checklist 90 (SCL-90-R), and an anecdotal response section; 46% of those surveyed responded. The major finding of the study was that 6.8% of the respondents who served in the combat theater had elevated M- PTSD scores. This was a statistically significant finding compared with the 1.7% of those surveyed who had elevated M-PTSD scores having served at home (X2 = 6.25, df = 1, p = .01). These elevated M-PTSD scores were found despite low levels of traditional combat stressors and strong levels of perceived public support. SCL-90-R scores were also higher in deployed versus nondeployed respondents. Although the clinical presence of PTSD was not established by this study, the preliminary finding of elevated M-PTSD scores in the deployed group is suggestive of the possibility of clinical PTSD. This finding supports the need for further PTSD research among reservists who are exposed to nontraditional combat stressors. Elevated SCL-90-R scores in the deployed group also suggest that other forms of psychological distress may have developed in a significant number of combat veterans of the Persian Gulf War.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-173
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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