Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and the Risk of Traumatic Deaths Among Vietnam Veterans

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Abstract

Vietnam veterans have been reported to be at increased risk for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and deaths due to traumatic causes after service in the Vietnam War. This study evaluated whether an association exists between PTSD and traumatic deaths among Vietnam veterans. Mortality risk of 4,247 Vietnam veterans from the Agent Orange Registry (AOR) with a diagnosis of PTSD relative to that of 12,010 Vietnam veterans from the AOR with no diagnosis of PTSD was calculated using the Cox proportional hazards model. Mortality experience of both groups was also compared with U.S. males. The PTSD veterans were more likely than the non-PTSD veterans to die from suicide (relative risk = 3.97, 95% confidence interval [Cl] = 2.20–7.03) and from accidental poisoning (relative risk = 2.89, CI = 1.03–8.12). The standardized mortality ratio for suicides was 6.74 (CI = 4.4–9.87) among PTSD veterans and 1.67 (CI = 1.05–2.53) among non-PTSD veterans. Among Vietnam veterans on the AOR, PTSD is associated with a significant increased risk for suicide and accidental poisoning.

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