The effects of prior combat experience on the expression of somatic and affective symptoms in deploying soldiers

William D.S. Killgore, Melba C. Stetz, Carl A. Castro, Charles W. Hoge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Deployment to a combat zone is undoubtedly an extremely stressful experience. It was hypothesized that, when faced with an impending wartime deployment, soldiers with prior combat experience would report minimal emotional problems accompanied by high rates of somatic complaints compared with combat-naive soldiers. Methods: Self-reports of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and affective and somatic complaints were collected from 2068 U.S. soldiers just prior to combat deployment during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Results: Although the percentage of soldiers scoring positive for PTSD was nearly identical for the experienced and inexperienced groups, scores on the Affective and Somatic scales differed as a function of prior combat history. Previous combat experience was associated with lower affective and greater somatic complaints relative to combat-naive soldiers. Conclusions: Consistent with theories of stress reaction, repression, and somatic amplification, combat-experienced soldiers reported limited affective complaints but greater somatic complaints relative to soldiers without combat experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-385
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Volume60
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Affect
  • Combat
  • Coping
  • Iraq
  • Soldier
  • Somatization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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