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Military | Contractors | Research/studies | Worker health and wellness

Military contractors at risk for PTSD: study

December 30, 2013

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Santa Monica, CA – Post-traumatic stress disorder and depression may be common among private military contractors, suggests a new study from RAND Corp., a nonprofit research institution.

The study is based on an anonymous online survey of 660 contract workers deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq or another conflict area between 2011 and 2013. One-quarter of respondents exhibited PTSD and 18 percent appeared to have depression, according to a RAND press release. Additionally, half of the contractors admitted misusing alcohol, and many reported traumatic brain injuries, respiratory issues, back pain and hearing problems.

Despite the mental health problems, fewer than 30 percent of respondents with symptoms of PTSD and 34 percent of those believed to have depression said they received treatment in the previous 12 months, highlighting what researchers called an “overlooked” group of people.

Researchers noted that 84 percent of contractors in the study also had served in the armed forces, so it is difficult to compare the rates to military members.

Differences were seen in contractors from different countries, with those from the United Kingdom reporting better preparation, less exposure to combat and higher-quality living conditions than their U.S. counterparts.