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Brief Reports   |    
Sources of the Increasing Number of Vietnam Era Veterans With a Diagnosis of PTSD Using VHA Services
Eric D. A. Hermes, M.D.; Rani Hoff, Ph.D.; Robert A. Rosenheck, M.D.
Psychiatric Services 2014; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201300232
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Dr. Hermes and Dr. Rosenheck are with the New England Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center and Dr. Hoff is with the Northeast Program Evaluation Center, all at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven (e-mail: eric.hermes@yale.edu). The authors are also with the Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.

Copyright © 2014 by the American Psychiatric Association


Objective  Correlates of the sharp increase in Vietnam era veterans diagnosed as having posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) were examined.

Methods  Analyses compared receipt of a PTSD diagnosis and service-connected disability compensation in 2004–2006 and 2007–2009.

Results  Among Vietnam era veterans, the percentage with a PTSD diagnosis in 2007–2009 was 22.2% higher than the percentage with PTSD in 2004–2006; the percentage without PTSD was 6.2% higher than in 2004–2006. Of those with PTSD in 2007–2009, 22.6% were previous VHA service users newly diagnosed (“conversions”); only 12.8% were entirely new to VHA (“recents”). Rates of disability compensation among recents and conversions were almost two and three times higher, respectively, than among those without PTSD.

Conclusions  The increase in Vietnam era veterans with PTSD is associated with more frequent “conversion” to PTSD among previous VHA users and receipt of disability compensation.

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Figure 1 PTSD diagnoses among Vietnam era veterans receiving VHA care in two periodsa

a Consecutives, received a PTSD diagnosis in both periods; departures, received a PTSD diagnosis in the earlier period and had no records of VHA care in the later period; conversions, received a PTSD diagnosis in the later but not the earlier period; recents, received a PTSD diagnosis in the later period and had no records of VHA care in the earlier period; reverse conversions, received a PTSD diagnosis in the earlier but not in the later period



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