What is it about?

In this study we examined the longitudinal impact of PTSD and co-occurring chronic pain and/or sleep disturbance (referred to as PTSD-multimorbidity) among Veterans recently separated from the military. We found that the overwhelming majority of newly discharged Veterans with PTSD also experience chronic pain and/or sleep disturbance; furthermore, PTSD-multimorbidity persisted over time. In addition, this is the first study to our knowledge to specifically examine the role of social functioning in the relationship between PTSD-multimorbidity and suicidal ideation among recently separated Veterans. Our findings suggest that impaired social functioning is one mechanism by which multimorbidity may increase risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

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Why is it important?

This study had several important clinical implications. Foremost is that clinicians treating post-9/11 Veterans with PTSD should also assess comorbid pain and sleep disturbance. Further, given the additional risk for suicidal ideation associated with poor social functioning, clinicians should consider referring individuals with poor social support to veteran support systems, monitoring quality of support received, and integrating social functioning aims into treatment planning.

Perspectives

This paper focused on health outcomes among trauma-exposed Veterans and drew from The Veterans Metrics Initiative Study (TVMI), a large prospective cohort study of newly separated U.S. military veterans, described in detail elsewhere (https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020734).

Rachel Shor

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This page is a summary of: The transition to civilian life: Impact of comorbid PTSD, chronic pain, and sleep disturbance on veterans’ social functioning and suicidal ideation., Psychological Trauma Theory Research Practice and Policy, June 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/tra0001271.
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