COMBAT-RELATED GUILT MEDIATES THE RELATIONS BETWEEN EXPOSURE TO COMBAT-RELATED ABUSIVE VIOLENCE AND PSYCHIATRIC DIAGNOSES


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Abstract

Background:This study examined the degree to which combat-related guilt mediated the relations between exposure to combat-related abusive violence and both Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in Vietnam Veterans.Methods:Secondary analyses were conducted on data collected from 1,323 male Vietnam Veterans as part of a larger, multisite study.Results:Results revealed that combat-related guilt partially mediated the association between exposure to combat-related abusive violence and PTSD, but completely mediated the association with MDD, with overall combat exposure held constant in the model. Follow-up analyses showed that, when comparing those participants who actually participated in combat-related abusive violence with those who only observed it, combat-related guilt completely mediated the association between participation in abusive violence and both PTSD and MDD. Moreover, when comparing those participants who observed combat-related abusive violence with those who had no exposure at all to it, combat-related guilt completely mediated the association between observation of combat-related abusive violence and MDD, but only partially mediated the association with PTSD.Conclusions:These findings suggest that guilt may be a mechanism through which abusive violence is related to PTSD and MDD among combat-deployed Veterans. These findings also suggest the importance of assessing abusive-violence related guilt among combat-deployed Veterans and implementing relevant interventions for such guilt whenever indicated.

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