Probable Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in the US Veteran Population According to <em>DSM-5</em>: Results From the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study

Objective: With the publication of DSM-5, important changes were made to the diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including the addition of 3 new symptoms. Some have argued that these changes will further increase the already high rates of comorbidity between PTSD and other psychiatric disorders. This study examined the prevalence of DSM-5 PTSD, conditional probability of PTSD given certain trauma exposures, endorsement of specific PTSD symptoms, and psychiatric comorbidities in the US veteran population.

Methods: Data were analyzed from the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study (NHRVS), a Web-based survey of a cross-sectional, nationally representative, population-based sample of 1,484 US veterans, which was fielded from September through October 2013. Probable PTSD was assessed using the PTSD Checklist-5.

Results: The weighted lifetime and past-month prevalence of probable DSM-5 PTSD was 8.1% (SE = 0.7%) and 4.7% (SE = 0.6%), respectively. Conditional probability of lifetime probable PTSD ranged from 10.1% (sudden death of close family member or friend) to 28.0% (childhood sexual abuse). The DSM-5 PTSD symptoms with the lowest prevalence among veterans with probable PTSD were trauma-related amnesia and reckless and self-destructive behavior. Probable PTSD was associated with increased odds of mood and anxiety disorders (OR = 7.6–62.8, P < .001), substance use disorders (OR = 3.9–4.5, P < .001), and suicidal behaviors (OR = 6.7–15.1, P < .001).

Conclusions: In US veterans, the prevalence of DSM-5 probable PTSD, conditional probability of probable PTSD, and odds of psychiatric comorbidity were similar to prior findings with DSM-IV–based measures; we found no evidence that changes in DSM-5 increase psychiatric comorbidity. Results underscore the high rates of exposure to both military and nonmilitary trauma and the high public health burden of DSM-5 PTSD and comorbid conditions in veterans.

J Clin Psychiatry 2016;77(11):1503–1510

https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.15m10188