Relationship adjustment, PTSD symptoms, and treatment utilization among coupled National Guard soldiers deployed to Iraq

J Fam Psychol. 2010 Oct;24(5):560-7. doi: 10.1037/a0020925.


Although combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with considerable impairment in relationship adjustment, research has yet to investigate how PTSD symptoms and relationship distress uniquely and jointly predict utilization of a range of mental health services. The present study sought to examine these issues utilizing a longitudinal sample of National Guard soldiers surveyed 2-3 months following return from deployment to Iraq and again 12 months later (N = 223). Results indicated that PTSD symptom severity, but not relationship adjustment, uniquely predicted greater odds of utilizing individual-oriented mental health services. A significant interaction was found indicating associations between PTSD symptoms and the odds of using services were increased when soldiers reported greater relationship adjustment. For utilization of family-oriented care, greater relationship distress was significantly correlated with greater odds of using services, but associations with PTSD symptoms were nonsignificant. The association between relationship distress and utilization of family-oriented services did not vary significantly with severity of PTSD symptoms. Results suggest supportive intimate relationships facilitate mental health treatment utilization for soldiers with PTSD symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Minnesota
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • United States