Comparing psychosocial functioning, suicide risk, and nonsuicidal self-injury between veterans with probable posttraumatic stress disorder and alcohol use disorder

Shannon M. Blakey, Sarah C. Griffin, Jeremy L. Grove, Samuel C. Peter, Ryan D. Levi, Patrick S. Calhoun, Eric B. Elbogen, Jean C. Beckham, Mary J. Pugh, Nathan A. Kimbrel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) are each common among Unites States (U.S.) military veterans and frequently co-occur (i.e., PTSD+AUD). Although comorbid PTSD+AUD is generally associated with worse outcomes relative to either diagnosis alone, some studies suggest the added burden of comorbid PTSD+AUD is greater relative to AUD-alone than to PTSD-alone. Furthermore, nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) is more common among veterans than previously thought but rarely measured as a veteran psychiatric health outcome. This study sought to replicate and extend previous work by comparing psychosocial functioning, suicide risk, and NSSI among veterans screening positive for PTSD, AUD, comorbid PTSD+AUD, and neither disorder. Methods: This study analyzed data from a national sample of N = 1046 U.S. veterans who had served during the Gulf War. Participants self-reported sociodemographic, functioning, and clinical information through a mailed survey. Results: Veterans with probable PTSD+AUD reported worse psychosocial functioning across multiple domains compared to veterans with probable AUD, but only worse functioning related to controlling violent behavior when compared to veterans with probable PTSD. Veterans with probable PTSD+AUD reported greater suicidal ideation and NSSI than veterans with probable AUD, but fewer prior suicide attempts than veterans with probable PTSD. Limitations: This study was cross-sectional, relied on self-report, did not verify clinical diagnoses, and may not generalize to veterans of other military conflicts. Conclusions: Findings underscore the adverse psychiatric and functional outcomes associated with PTSD and comorbid PTSD+AUD, such as NSSI, and highlight the importance of delivering evidence-based treatment to this veteran population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-18
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume308
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Non-suicidal self injury
  • Post traumatic stress disorder
  • Psychosocial functioning
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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