Limited prospective studies exist that evaluate the mental health status of military health care professionals who have deployed. This study used prospective data from the Millennium Cohort Study with longitudinal analysis techniques to examine whether health care professionals deployed in support of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were more likely to screen positive for new-onset posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression after deployment than individuals from other occupations. Of 65,108 subjects included, 9,371 (14.4%) reported working as health care professionals. The rates of new positive screens for PTSD or depression were similar for those in health care occupations (4.7% and 4.3%) compared with those in other occupations (4.6% and 3.9%) for the first and second follow-up, respectively. Among military personnel deployed with combat experience, health care professionals did not have increased odds for new-onset PTSD or depression over time. Among deployed health care professionals, combat experience significantly increased the odds: adjusted odds ratio = 2.01; 95% confidence interval [1.06, 3.83] for new-onset PTSD or depression. These results suggest that combat experience, not features specific to being a health care professional, was the key exposure explaining the development of these outcomes.
Copyright © 2012 International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.