Objective: To assess the prevalence of psychological symptoms during periods of relatively low deployment activity and the factors associated with each psychological health outcome.
Methods: A survey of 4500 randomly selected UK service personnel was carried out in 2002. The questionnaire included the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12), the post-traumatic stress disorder checklist (PCL), 15 symptoms and an assessment of alcohol intake.
Results: A total of 20% were above cut-offs for GHQ-12, 15% for symptoms, 12% for alcohol intake and 2% for PCL. Gender, age, excessive drinking and smoking were independently associated with most outcomes of interest. Number of deployments was independently associated with multiple symptoms and excessive drinking. High post-traumatic stress disorder score was more frequent in the Army and in lower ranks.
Conclusions: Psychological symptoms are highly prevalent in UK Armed Forces. Many risk factors are associated with measures of psychological ill-health.