Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Largest-ever study of mental health risk, resilience in army personnel releases findings

Date:
March 3, 2014
Source:
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU)
Summary:
Most mental health disorders and suicidal ideation among U.S. Army soldiers start before enlistment, according to findings of the largest-ever study of mental health risk in army personnel. Three new articles address the issues of suicide, mental health and death predictors in army personnel. The authors concludes that enhanced screening of applicants and expanded interventions to help new soldiers with mental disorders hold promise for reducing the high suicide rate in the U.S. Army.

Most mental health disorders and suicidal ideation among U.S. Army soldiers start before enlistment, according to findings published in the March 3, 2014, online version of JAMA Psychiatry.

The study findings are from the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers, or "Army STARRS," the largest study of mental health risk and resilience ever conducted among U.S. Army personnel.

Army STARRS researchers, led by study co-principal investigators, Robert J. Ursano, MD, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the F. Edward Hιbert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and Murray B. Stein, MD, MPH, Professor of Psychiatry and Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, found that a majority (58.2%) of soldiers who ever thought of suicide had these thoughts before enlistment, 76.6% of soldiers with current mental disorders had onsets before enlistment, and nearly half (47%) of soldiers who ever made a suicide attempt did so for the first time before enlistment. Nearly 60% of soldier suicide attempts can be traced to pre-enlistment mental disorders, which are more common among non-deployed U.S. Army soldiers than demographically similar populations of civilians (25.1% vs. 11.6%).

These initial published findings include three papers that use different strategies to evaluate suicide risk and protective factors among service people, including an analysis comparing the prevalence of mental disorders among Army and civilian populations.

"Some of the differences in disorder rates are truly remarkable," said Ronald Kessler, McNeil Family Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School and senior author of the paper on mental disorder prevalence. "The rate of major depression is five times as high among soldiers as civilians, intermittent explosive disorder six times as high, and PTSD nearly 15 times as high."

The most common disorders in the Army STARRS survey were attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and intermittent explosive disorder (IED; which is characterized by recurrent and uncontrollable anger attacks), Kessler said. The findings suggest that soldiers did not have higher rates of most "internalizing disorders" (anxiety disorders and depression) than civilians before enlistment, but rather developed high rates of these disorders only after they enlisted in the Army. The situation was different, though, for "behavioral disorders" (ADHD, IED, and substance abuse), which were much more common among young people who subsequently enlisted in the Army than those who did not and increased even more after enlistment. Nearly half of current soldier internalizing disorders and 80% of behavioral disorders started before enlistment.

"These results are a wake-up call highlighting the importance of outreach and intervention for new soldiers who enter the Army with pre-existing mental disorders," said Ursano.

The second of the three Army STARRS papers appearing in JAMA Psychiatry revealed that 13.9% of soldiers considered suicide at some point in their lifetime, 5.3% made a suicide plan, and 2.4% attempted suicide, with between 47 to 60% of these outcomes first occurring prior to enlistment. Prior mental disorders were found to be by far the strongest predictors of these suicidal behaviors.

"It is striking that nearly 50% of the soldiers who attempted suicide made their first attempt before joining the Army, as history of suicide attempts is asked about in recruitment interviews and applicants who report such a history typically are excluded from service," said Matthew Nock, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and lead author of this report on soldier suicidality.

Nock noted that the most practical implication of this finding might be that the Army should develop outreach and intervention programs for new soldiers based on the realization that a nontrivial proportion of new soldiers come into the Army with a history of mental disorder and suicidality, and that they are not always forthcoming about these concerns during the recruitment process. Importantly, findings show that that it is not only depression and PTSD that predict suicide attempts.

The third JAMA Psychiatry article by lead author Michael Schoenbaum of the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, examined the suicide and accident death rates in relation to basic socio-demographic and Army experience factors in the 975,057 Regular Army soldiers who served between Jan. 1, 2004 and Dec. 31, 2009, charting variations in the rates based on a variety of factors including sex, race, education level, and rank.

Enhanced screening of applicants and expanded interventions to help new soldiers with mental disorders hold promise for reducing the high suicide rate in the U.S. Army.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Michael Schoenbaum, Ronald C. Kessler, Stephen E. Gilman, Lisa J. Colpe, Steven G. Heeringa, Murray B. Stein, Robert J. Ursano, Kenneth L. Cox. Predictors of Suicide and Accident Death in the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS). JAMA Psychiatry, 2014; DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.4417
  2. Ronald C. Kessler, Steven G. Heeringa, Murray B. Stein, Lisa J. Colpe, Carol S. Fullerton, Irving Hwang, James A. Naifeh, Matthew K. Nock, Maria Petukhova, Nancy A. Sampson, Michael Schoenbaum, Alan M. Zaslavsky, Robert J. Ursano. Thirty-Day Prevalence ofDSM-IVMental Disorders Among Nondeployed Soldiers in the US Army. JAMA Psychiatry, 2014; DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.28
  3. Matthew K. Nock, Murray B. Stein, Steven G. Heeringa, Robert J. Ursano, Lisa J. Colpe, Carol S. Fullerton, Irving Hwang, James A. Naifeh, Nancy A. Sampson, Michael Schoenbaum, Alan M. Zaslavsky, Ronald C. Kessler. Prevalence and Correlates of Suicidal Behavior Among Soldiers. JAMA Psychiatry, 2014; DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.30

Cite This Page:

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU). "Largest-ever study of mental health risk, resilience in army personnel releases findings." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140303163153.htm>.
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU). (2014, March 3). Largest-ever study of mental health risk, resilience in army personnel releases findings. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140303163153.htm
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU). "Largest-ever study of mental health risk, resilience in army personnel releases findings." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140303163153.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) — Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — A study by King's College London says there's a link between how well kids draw at age 4 and how intelligent they are later in life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mental, Neurological Disabilities Up 21% Among Kids

Mental, Neurological Disabilities Up 21% Among Kids

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) — New numbers show a decade's worth of changes in the number of kids with disabilities. They suggest mental disabilities are up; physical ones are down. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins