Psychological Distress and Burden Among Female Partners of Combat Veterans With PTSD

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Abstract

Abstract:

Psychological distress among cohabitating female partners of combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was examined in a cross-sectional study using a modified version of the Health Belief Model. A convenience sample of 89 cohabitating female partners of male veterans in outpatient PTSD treatment was interviewed by telephone using a structured interview. Partners endorsed high levels of psychological distress with elevations on clinical scales at or exceeding the 90th percentile. Severe levels of overall psychological distress, depression, and suicidal ideation were prevalent among partners. Multivariate analyses revealed that perceived threat, recent mental health treatment, and level of involvement with veterans predicted global partner psychological distress. Partner burden was predicted by partner self-efficacy, perceived threat, barriers to mental health treatment, and partner treatment engagement. These findings are compelling since they demonstrate that partners of veterans with combat-related PTSD experience significant levels of emotional distress that warrant clinical attention. Psychological distress and partner burden were each associated with a unique combination of predictors, suggesting that although these constructs are related, they have distinct correlates and potentially different implications within the family environment. Future research should examine these constructs separately using causal modeling analyses to identify modifiable targets for interventions to reduce psychological distress among partners of individuals with PTSD.

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