The burden of psychological symptoms in UK Armed Forces

Occup Med (Lond). 2006 Aug;56(5):322-8. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kql023. Epub 2006 May 23.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology