Prevalence in soldiers and veterans

What is prevalence?

Prevalence represents the overall proportion of individuals in a population who have the disorder of interest. It is different from incidence, which represents only the new cases that have developed over a particular time period. Point prevalence is the proportion of individuals in a population who have the disorder at a given point in time (e.g., at one-month post-trauma), while period prevalence is the proportion of individuals in a population who have the disorder over specific time periods (e.g., one to two months post-trauma). Lifetime prevalence is the proportion of individuals in a population who have ever had the disorder and lifetime morbid risk also includes those who had the disorder but were deceased at the time of the survey.

What is the evidence for the prevalence of PTSD in soldiers and veterans?

After military deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan, moderate quality evidence found the overall prevalence of PTSD was around 23%. Rates were higher in Iraq-deployed personnel (12.9%) than in Afghanistan-deployed personnel (7.1%), higher in combat deployed personnel (12.4%) than support personnel (4.9%), higher in army (13.2%) and marine (10.4%) personnel than in navy (7.3%) and air force (2.6%) personnel, and higher in reserve or National Guard personnel (14.5%) than in active-duty personnel (11.4%).

The overall prevalence of PTSD in US army reserve members was around 9.8%, and in US active service members, prevalence was around 8.9%. The prevalence of PTSD in peacekeepers between one month before and 6.6 years after deployment was around 5.3%. The prevalence of PTSD in UK service personnel ranged from 2.5% mid-deployment to 4.3% by over 2 years post-deployment.

The prevalence of PTSD was higher in military samples with a traumatic brain injury than in military samples without a traumatic brain injury (36.8% vs. 10.8%). The prevalence of PTSD in ex-military personnel with any physical impairment was between 2% and 59%.

The prevalence of PTSD in older US veterans (>65 years) is around 8.4%, and the prevalence of PTSD in US veterans involved in the justice system was between 4% and 39%.

August 2021

Image: ©Georgiy – stock.adobe.com

Last updated at: 12:36 am, 6th August 2021
To view documentation related to this topic download the files below
Fact Sheet Technical Commentary
Tags:  Veterans

NeuRA Libraries

Title Colour Legend:
Green - Topic summary is available.
Orange - Topic summary is being compiled.
Red - Topic summary has no current systematic review available.