Reports of Prior Exposure to Potentially Traumatic Events and PTSD in Troops Poised for Deployment

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Exposure to potentially traumatic events (PTEs), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology, and the mental health status of 2,947 military personnel were assessed prior to deployment on a peacekeeping mission. Approximately 74% of the soldiers reported being exposed to at least one PTE. The mean number of PTEs reported was 2.38, most of which did not occur during previous deployments. Approximately 6% of the participants exceeded our screening criteria for PTSD and 43% endorsed elevated levels of psychological distress. These findings document a high rate of exposure to PTEs in soldiers prior to their deployment. These results also highlight the need to screen for PTEs when attempting to isolate the rates of PTSD following a specific traumatic event and to examine the effects of cumulative exposure to PTEs.

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