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Little is known about the prevalence of mental health outcomes in UK personnel at the end of the British involvement in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
We examined the prevalence of mental disorders and alcohol misuse, whether this differed between serving and ex-serving regular personnel and by deployment status.
This is the third phase of a military cohort study (2014–2016; n = 8093). The sample was based on participants from previous phases (2004–2006 and 2007–2009) and a new randomly selected sample of those who had joined the UK armed forces since 2009.
The prevalence was 6.2% for probable post-traumatic stress disorder, 21.9% for common mental disorders and 10.0% for alcohol misuse. Deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan and a combat role during deployment were associated with significantly worse mental health outcomes and alcohol misuse in ex-serving regular personnel but not in currently serving regular personnel.
The findings highlight an increasing prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder and a lowering prevalence of alcohol misuse compared with our previous findings and stresses the importance of continued surveillance during service and beyond.
Declaration of interest:
All authors are based at King's College London which, for the purpose of this study and other military-related studies, receives funding from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). S.A.M.S., M.J., L.H., D.P., S.M. and R.J.R. salaries were totally or partially paid by the UK MoD. The UK MoD provides support to the Academic Department of Military Mental Health, and the salaries of N.J., N.G. and N.T.F. are covered totally or partly by this contribution. D.Mu. is employed by Combat Stress, a national UK charity that provides clinical mental health services to veterans. D.MacM. is the lead consultant for an NHS Veteran Mental Health Service. N.G. is the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Lead for Military and Veterans’ Health, a trustee of Walking with the Wounded, and an independent director at the Forces in Mind Trust; however, he was not directed by these organisations in any way in relation to his contribution to this paper. N.J. is a full-time member of the armed forces seconded to King's College London. N.T.F. reports grants from the US Department of Defense and the UK MoD, is a trustee (unpaid) of The Warrior Programme and an independent advisor to the Independent Group Advising on the Release of Data (IGARD). S.W. is a trustee (unpaid) of Combat Stress and Honorary Civilian Consultant Advisor in Psychiatry for the British Army (unpaid). S.W. is affiliated to the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response at King's College London in partnership with Public Health England, in collaboration with the University of East Anglia and Newcastle University. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the National Health Service, the NIHR, the Department of Health, Public Health England or the UK MoD.
Little is known about the social and emotional well-being of children whose fathers have been deployed to the conflicts in Iraq/Afghanistan or who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
To examine the emotional and behavioural well-being of children whose fathers are or have been in the UK armed forces, in particular the effects of paternal deployment to the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan and paternal PTSD.
Fathers who had taken part in a large tri-service cohort and had children aged 3–16 years were asked about the emotional and behavioural well-being of their child(ren) and assessed for symptoms of PTSD via online questionnaires and telephone interview.
In total, 621 (67%) fathers participated, providing data on 1044 children. Paternal deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan was not associated with childhood emotional and behavioural difficulties. Paternal probable PTSD were associated with child hyperactivity. This finding was limited to boys and those under 11 years of age.
This study showed that adverse childhood emotional and behavioural well-being was not associated with paternal deployment but was associated with paternal probable PTSD.
Declaration of interest
N.T.F. is a trustee of the Warrior Programme, a charity supporting ex-service personnel and their families. She is also a member of the Independent Group Advising on the Release of Data (IGARD). S.W. is a trustee of Combat Stress, a charity supporting ex-service personnel and their families, and President of the Royal Society of Medicine. S.W. is partially funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response at King's College London in partnership with Public Health England (PHE), in collaboration with the University of East Anglia and Newcastle University.
Substance use is implicated in the cause and course of psychosis.
To characterise substance and alcohol use in an epidemiologically representative treatment sample of people experiencing a first psychotic episode in south Cambridgeshire.
Current and lifetime substance use was recorded for 123 consecutive referrals to a specialist early intervention service. Substance use was compared with general population prevalence estimates from the British Crime Survey.
Substance use among people with first-episode psychosis was twice that of the general population and was more common in men than women. Cannabis abuse was reported in 51% of patients (n=62) and alcohol abuse in 43% (n=53). More than half (n=68, 55%) had used Class A drugs, and 38% (n=43) reported polysubstance abuse. Age at first use of cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamine was significantly associated with age at first psychotic symptom.
Substance misuse is present in the majority of people with first-episode psychosis and has major implications for management. The association between age at first substance use and first psychotic symptoms has public health implications.
This study examines whether cognitive dysfunction in chronic fatigue may be accounted for by depression and anxiety or is due to brain pathology evident on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Twenty-six subjects with chronic fatigue, with and without coexisting depression, and 18 age-matched normal controls were recruited from primary care following a presumed viral illness six months previously. Comparison was made with 13 psychiatric controls with depressive illness on standardised cognitive tests. MRI determined the presence of cerebral white-matter lesions.
No substantial differences in performance were shown between subjects with chronic fatigue, most of whom met the criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome, and controls. Subjective cognitive dysfunction increased with psychopathology. White-matter lesions were found in a minority from all groups. Improvement in fatigue and depression coincided with improved performance on cognitive measures.
Subjective complaints of cognitive impairment are a prominent feature of chronic fatigue, but objective cognitive and MRI abnormalities are not. Such complaints probably reflect psychopathology rather than a post-viral process.
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