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Childhood Trauma Exposure in Iraq and Afghanistan War Era Veterans: Implications for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms and Adult Functional Social Support

NCJ Number
Child Abuse & Neglect Volume: 36 Issue: 5 Dated: May 2012 Pages: 423-432
Elizabeth E. Van Voorhees; Eric A. Dedert; Patrick S. Calhoun; Mira Brancu; Jennifer Runnals; Jean C. Beckham
Date Published
May 2012
10 pages
This study examined the relationship among childhood trauma, posttraumatic disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and adult social support in a large sample of veterans who served in the military after 9/11/2001, with a focus on the potential role of the PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) avoidance and numbing cluster as intervening in the association between childhood abuse and adult social support.
The findings support the link between childhood trauma (both abuse-related and non-abuse-related trauma) with PTSD symptoms in military personnel and veterans, even after accounting for combat exposure. In addition, the avoidance and numbing symptom cluster of childhood trauma-based PTSD may be significant in limiting one's subsequent ability to receive social support in adulthood. Given these findings, military personnel and veterans should be encouraged to develop and access social supports as they attempt to cope with exposure to combat trauma. This may be particularly important for those who have a history of trauma prior to entering the military, as well as for those who tend to use avoidance in coping with PTSD. Study participants were 1,301 veterans and active-duty soldiers who had served in the military since 9/11/2001. A subsample of these participants (n = 482) completed an inventory of current functional social support. The Davidson Trauma Scale measured the frequency and severity of PTSD experienced within the past week. The Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire elicited self-reports on exposure to a range of potentially traumatic events. The Combat Exposure Scale measured combatants' exposure to war-related stressors. The Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey measured social support or the degree to which a person perceives that his/her interpersonal relationships serve specific functions or meet specific needs. 3 tables and 49 references