Web-Based Alcohol Intervention for Veterans: PTSD, Combat Exposure, and Alcohol Outcomes

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Objective: The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the relationship between baseline levels of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), combat exposure, and alcohol outcomes in a sample of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) veterans using a web-based self-management intervention (VetChange) for problem drinking. Method: The current study focuses on 523 veterans who participated in a larger randomized clinical trial. Analyses in the current study include (a) multivariable linear regression models to assess the relationship between PTSD, combat exposure, and alcohol variables at baseline, and (b) general linear models accounting for correlated data within subjects to analyze change over time for alcohol outcomes as a function of baseline PTSD symptoms, combat exposure, and covariates. Results: There was a positive association between PTSD symptom severity and alcohol use and alcohol problem severity at baseline. However, participants with higher baseline PTSD symptoms demonstrated a significantly greater reduction in alcohol use during the intervention and a greater reduction in alcohol problems from baseline to 3-month follow-up. Combat exposure severity was positively associated with alcohol problems at baseline. However, veterans with higher exposure demonstrated a greater reduction in average weekly drinking between end of intervention and follow-up, and otherwise showed changes similar to participants with lower exposure. Conclusions: Higher levels of baseline PTSD symptoms and combat exposure severity did not prevent OEF/OIF veterans from achieving positive alcohol outcomes through participation in a self-management web intervention for problem drinking.

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