Psychotropic Medication Prescribing in Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans and Vietnam Era Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

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Abstract

A new generation of veterans from Iraq/Afghanistan wars is seeking psychotropic pharmacotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the Veterans Health Administration, but little is known about differences in prescribing practices between this group and Vietnam era veterans with the same diagnosis. The Veterans Health Administration administrative data for fiscal year 2012 were used to compare prescribing for 155,631 Iraq/Afghanistan veterans and for 327,634 Vietnam era veterans diagnosed with PTSD. The proportion of veterans who were prescribed psychotropic medications (altogether and within five of seven medication classes) were not substantially different between veteran groups. Iraq/Afghanistan veterans were more frequently prescribed prazosin (p < 0.0001, relative risk = 1.51). However, the number of prescriptions for anxiolytics/sedatives/hypnotics as well as prazosin and opiates filled by this younger group was lower by a small magnitude (Cohen's d < 0.2). Iraq/Afghanistan veterans have good access to psychopharmacological treatment for PTSD but fill somewhat fewer prescriptions than Vietnam era veterans.

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