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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 39 (1997) 1, 37 - 49

Short report

Psychic complaints and symptoms in outpatient veterans more than forty years after traumatic war experiences

B.J.N. Schreuder, W.Chr. Kleijn, H.H. Vogelaar, H.G.M. Rooijmans

The present study examined psychic and in particular posttraumatic complaints and symptoms in Dutch outpatient war veterans (n = 55). The objective was to describe current complaints and symptoms and to analyse their relationship with length of military service and the severity of the traumatic experiences. Also, draftable servicemen were compared with volunteers. The instruments used were a standardized intake interview, and Dutch validated versions of the SCL-90, the Combat Exposure Scale, the Impact of Event Scale, and the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale. The prevalence of a complete current PTSD in this sample was 54.5%. The draftable servicemen had higher, but not significant, mean scores on all questionnaires. The number of current complaints were positively correlated with the severity of the war experiences and negatively correlated with the length of military service. The ratio between the severity of the war experiences and the length of military service was a strong indication for the level of current complaints and symptoms. People with more and more serious war experiences in combination with a shorter time in military service ran a greater risk of current symptoms. This effect was most obvious in draftable servicemen.