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There has been no comprehensive investigation of psychological health in Australia's Korean War veteran population, and few researchers are investigating the health of coalition Korean War veterans into old age.
To investigate the association between war service, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression in Australia's 7525 surviving male Korean War veterans and a community comparison group.
A survey was conducted using a self-report postal questionnaire which included the PTSD Checklist, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale and the Combat Exposure Scale.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (OR 6.63, P <0.001), anxiety (OR 5.74, P <0.001) and depression (OR 5.45, P <0.001) were more prevalent in veterans than in the comparison group. These disorders were strongly associated with heavy combat and low rank.
Effective intervention is necessary to reduce the considerable psychological morbidity experienced by Korean War veterans. Attention to risk factors and early intervention will be necessary to prevent similar long-term psychological morbidity in veterans of more recent conflicts.
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