Correlates of anger and hostility in Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans

Am J Psychiatry. 2010 Sep;167(9):1051-8. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2010.09050739. Epub 2010 Jun 15.


Objective: As troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan to civilian life, clinicians are starting to grapple with how best to detect those at risk of postdeployment adjustment problems. Data reveal the presence of mental health problems in these soldiers, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), head injury, and alcohol abuse. Each of these conditions has been associated with elevated anger and hostility in veterans from previous conflicts. The authors sought to identify variables empirically related to anger and hostility in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Method: A total of 676 veterans who served since September 11, 2001, and who volunteered to participate in research studies were interviewed with instruments designed to collect information on psychiatric symptoms, health, and possible postdeployment adjustment issues. The primary outcome measures were variables measuring aggressive impulses or urges, difficulty managing anger, and perceived problems controlling violent behavior.

Results: The three outcome measures were each significantly associated with PTSD hyperarousal symptoms. Other PTSD symptoms were less strongly and less consistently linked to anger and hostility. Traumatic brain injury and alcohol misuse were related to the outcome variables in bivariate but not multivariate analyses. Distinct sets of demographic, historical, and military-related variables were associated with the different facets of anger and hostility measured.

Conclusions: The results underscore the need to tailor interventions individually to address anger and hostility effectively and to develop theoretically sophisticated, evidence-based knowledge to identify service members at risk of problematic postdeployment adjustment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adjustment Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Adjustment Disorders / psychology
  • Adult
  • Afghan Campaign 2001-*
  • Anger*
  • Combat Disorders / diagnosis
  • Combat Disorders / psychology
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Hostility*
  • Humans
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011*
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Military Personnel / psychology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Veterans / psychology*