Researchers have found that there is an increase in mental heath problems as a result of military-related traumatic events, and such problems increase in the months following return from combat. Nevertheless, researchers have not assessed the impact of early intervention efforts with this at-risk population. In the present study, the authors compared different early interventions with 2,297 U.S. soldiers following a year-long deployment to Iraq. Platoons were randomly assigned to standard postdeployment stress education, Battlemind debriefing, and small and large group Battlemind training. Results from a 4-month follow-up with 1,060 participants showed those with high levels of combat exposure who received Battlemind debriefing reported fewer posttraumatic stress symptoms, depression symptoms, and sleep problems than those in stress education. Small group Battlemind training participants with high combat exposure reported fewer posttraumatic stress symptoms and sleep problems than stress education participants. Compared to stress education participants, large group Battlemind training participants with high combat exposure reported fewer posttraumatic stress symptoms and lower levels of stigma and, regardless of combat exposure, reported fewer depression symptoms. Findings demonstrate that brief early interventions have the potential to be effective with at-risk occupational groups.
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