Perceived Social Support in Multi-era Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

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Low social support is associated with greater prevalence and severity of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, the factors that explain the association between social support and PTSD are not well understood. In the current study, 741 VA patients who presented to a PTSD clinic between 2005 and 2013 completed assessments of symptom severity and social support. Analysis of variance and linear regression tested the associations between social support, sociodemographic characteristics, and PTSD symptom severity. In adjusted analyses, social support was robustly associated with PTSD severity (β = −0.30, p < 0.001). After stratification by combat era, this association remained significant for all era veterans except veterans of the post-Vietnam/Desert Storm era. Other sociodemographic characteristics did not affect the association between social support and PTSD. Our findings suggest that the detrimental effects of poor social support pervade across sociodemographic groups and that efforts to improve social support in veterans with PTSD are needed.

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