Prevalence of PTSD and other mental disorders in UK service personnel by time since end of deployment: a meta-analysis

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Background: US studies have shown an increase of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, but not alcohol misuse related to time of assessment since returning from deployment. We assessed if similar trends occur in the UK Armed Forces.
Methods: We selected UK studies based on our data base of King’s Centre for Military Health Research publications from 2006 until January 2016 with at least one of the following measures: PTSD checklist-civilian version (PCL-C), the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) and the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). The studies included personnel assessed for these outcomes after their most recent deployment. A search in Medline, Psycho- Info and Embase confirmed that no relevant publication was missed.
Results: Twenty one thousand, seven hundred and forty-six deployed personnel from nine studies contributed to the meta-analyses by time since end of deployment in the PTSD analysis. The number of studies for period of time varied from two to four studies. The trend by time-category of questionnaire completion since returning from deployment were for PTSD β = 0.0021 (95 % CI −0.00046 to 0.0049, p = 0.12), for psychological distress β = 0.0123 (95 % CI 0.005 to 0.019, p = 0.002) and for alcohol misuse β = 0.0013 (−0.0079 to 0.0105, p = 0.77).
Conclusions: There was no evidence that the prevalence of PTSD and alcohol misuse changed according to time since the end of deployment over a three-year period, but there was evidence for an association with increasing psychological distress.
Original languageEnglish
Article number16-333
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number333
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2016


  • Alcohol misuse, Impact of deployment over time, Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Psychological distress, Prevalence trends


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